Most teenagers don’t consider being able to stay up late, being able to go out without parental supervision or receiving a diploma on graduation day a rite of passage. Getting a learner’s permit and full license is what they wait for. So why is there a smaller amount of teens out on the road and why are so many prolonging their driver’s test?
“I don’t have [my restricted]. I keep procrastinating, thinking ‘I should get one as soon as possible.’ But even if I did I wouldn’t be able to drive…it’s about the money,” said Melanie Chiurliza, a junior at MLEC.
Nowadays, there appear to be fewer and fewer teenagers working. Teenage unemployment has increased by 11 percent over the years since 2006.
With fewer teens making their own money, fewer are able to pay high gas prices. Floridians are paying more money for gas than any of the other southeastern states.
With an average price of $3.63, Florida charges eight cents higher than the national average according to AAA. Teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal car crash than drivers 20 and older.
Consequently, adding a teen driver typically increases an insurance premium by about 84 percent in Florida. The number of covered teenagers have decreased by about 12 percent.
“It looks like teens just can’t afford to drive,” said Matt Moore, Vice President of the Highway Loss Data Institute.
Instead of spending money on gas and car repairs, teenagers are communicating more lately through technology. The generation today depends on and embraces the technology around them — more so then past generations. Cellphones, Wi-Fi, and applications like WhatsApp and Line are changing the way people communicate without the need of actual interaction.
“…Access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people,” said Michael Sivak, a research professor of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan.
Sivak and researchers gathered evidence showing that countries with a higher amount of Internet users also had lower rates of licensed young drivers. They hypothesized that, “social media may be taking the place of motorized transportation.”
According to the Florida Department of Highway and Motor Vehicles, there are 4,000 less 16-years old getting their driver’s licenses than those of seven years ago. Getting a driver’s license used to represent freedom and independence — the first big step into adulthood for teens.
Now they appear to have other financial and logical priorities. Communication remains a priority, but ultimately, it is easier to connect with a phone than through a road.