Report: Fewer teens taking to the road

Teen driving trends

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Parents, don’t be surprised if your teen son or daughter doesn’t express an interest in taking to the open road. A recent report suggests that teens now more than ever are putting off getting behind the wheel.

According to the Ohio Public Interest Research Group (Ohio PIRG), the change may be because teens are learning not to rely on motorized transportation as much as their parents did, and the economy may be a driving force, too. To read the report, click here.

The percentage of high school seniors with driver’s licenses declined from 85 percent to 73 percent between 1996 and 2010, according to the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety, with federal data suggesting that the decline has continued since then.

Marcey Taylor’s son Matt is 16. The Austintown mom thought her son would come to her right away and want to drive, but he is not interested yet, and her older son didn’t get his license until he was 18.

“He is just not interested. He is focused on school work. He is not in any hurry,” Taylor said. “We teach our kids driving is huge responsibility.”

Those under age 18 are required to complete a driver’s education course before getting their license. That means 24 hours of classroom work and eight hours of driving with an instructor, with a cost averaging $250 to $300.

The study found that driving education requirements is a small but important role in causing young people to delay the process.

Greg Anderson with All-Star Driving in Boardman said his school is not growing as rapidly as he thought it would as teens put off getting their license.

“At one point in time, they are going to be a novice driver. Just because they turn 18 does not mean they are going to magically know how to drive,” Anderson said.

Other costs including insurance, gas and vehicle maintenance are also factors. Anderson says it’s important for anyone behind the wheel to know the proper way to drive.

“We teach different driver strategies to make them safer, and it is just not the A, B, C of driving, how to turn right or turn left and do maneuverability. We teach a lot more than that,” Anderson said.

Young people aged 16 to 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than they did in 2001 – greater decline in driving than any other age group, the report state. The severe economic recession was likely responsible for some of the decline.

Fueling the trend away from private vehicles, young adults are more likely to want to live in urban and walkable neigh­borhoods and are more open to non-driving forms of transportation than older Americans.

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