Is the Driver’s License Losing Its Draw?

Photo by Rusty Clark

Guest post written by MyImprov

Do you remember when you
turned 16? Chances are you counted down the days until your birthday so you
could finally get your driver’s license. You were ecstatic to finally have
independence from your parents and make your first big step into adulthood.
However, it seems like teens today just don’t have this same urgency when it
comes to getting their licenses. In fact, USA Today reports that only 73% of
high school seniors had their license in 2010, compared to 85% in 1996.

Why the dramatic

There are many reasons
that teenagers today don’t have the same desire to become drivers as you did
when you were growing up:

  • They don’t have to. Bottom
    line, if they don’t have a need to get a license, they probably won’t put
    forth the effort. If they can get rides from their parents or friends, why
    not just stay a passenger for as long as possible? A lot of teens will
    also just walk or bike where they need to go, so the cutback in licenses
    definitely isn’t due to laziness.
  • It’s too expensive. With the
    entire country still recovering from a recession, it’s no surprise that
    the cost of driving is a big contributing factor. Whether it is the
    increased insurance premium or the gas needed to get from point A to point
    B, a lot of parents simply can’t afford for their teens to drive. And if
    the teens are made responsible for the expenses, the cost of the privilege
    is not worth the benefits for many of them.
  • They are too busy. For some
    reason, teenagers just don’t feel like they have the time to get a
    license. However, it really just comes down to not making it a priority.
    You had the same amount of homework, and maybe even a job, when you were a
    teen and you still found a way. If the desire isn’t there, the driving
    practice needed to get a license takes a back seat to homework and
  • It’s not essential. With the
    Internet at their fingertips, teens just don’t feel as much of a need to
    get out. Many of them are perfectly content socializing online, and many
    of them even do their shopping that way. If they aren’t leaving the house,
    they surely don’t need a car.

Is this good news
or bad news?

Sure, having your
teenager drive is definitely a nice relief from being the go-to taxi driver for
all of your teenager’s activities. However, it is important to remember that
car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens, and drivers ages 16-19
are three times as likely to get into a fatal car crash as drivers over age 20,
according to the CDC. With this in mind, it seems like teenager’s new laid-back
attitude to getting their licenses may actually be a blessing in disguise.
Inconvenient? Absolutely. But if it means your kid doesn’t get into a serious
accident, it’s definitely worth the sacrifice.

If your teen does decide
to get his or her driver’s license, it is important for the parents to be
involved in the teen driver’s education process, including sharing real-life
driving knowledge and observing and critiquing their teen’s behind-the-wheel
driving efforts.


  1. I'm very happy to not have a teenager with a license yet. We're teaching him. But I didn't get my license until I was 20 and maybe he shouldn't either.

  2. I have a 16 year old and I'm totally ok with him not having a license. I think kids should be a little older anyway.

  3. I remember being so excited the day I turned 16 because I was able to get my license. I think they need more restrictions but having a way to get yourself to work and school could really be a big help especially if your parents work.

  4. I have four kids, all of them have their driver's licences. It is very expensive and the cost of the insurance is ridiculous. Some of their friends have not bothered to get their licence, so guess who does a fair bit of the driving when they want to go out? My kids. I don't disagree with kids waiting and, in fact, wouldn't have minded if my kids had waited a little longer. Even at 18 they are more responsible with the car then when they get their licences at 16.

  5. with the prices of insurance and gas along with maintance on a car none of my kids will be able to afford them so they won't be getting behind the wheel until they get a job and afford that themselves which won't happen until they graduate.

  6. My daughter just turned 16 and has no interest in getting her license. Between my husband and I driving her around, her boyfriend living down the street and her best friend having a car, she doesn't feel it's necessary. And honestly, I'm not in any rush to spend more on our insurance!

  7. Driver education is crazy expensive and it has to be scheduled as part of our kids' already busy days. I remember how hard it was to find a round of classes that worked with my extremely active and involved daughter's routine. They did want their licenses at 16 though, but I waited until I felt they were really, really ready.

  8. My daughter will be 18 in April and doesn't have her license yet. Since we homeschool we can't go through the school district and she needs to do lessons at a private school (no way are we teaching her). They are pretty intensive at 4 or 5 days everyday for three weeks, she just can't commit that kind of time between school and her work schedule. Maybe this summer she can do it, but honestly she won't have a car to drive while at university anyway so pushing it off another year isn't a big deal either.

  9. They say that teen drivers are the most at risk and risky behind the wheel. I think waiting is a good thing for everyone. Although, I liked being able to drive myself when I was sixteen!

  10. Angela, I had a niece who waiting for a long time too.

    Anne, that will probably be me, some of my boys are already chopping at the bit to get their license, so I don't think they will be one of the ones that wait.

    Tammy, that has been a concern of mine too since we do homeschool. I don't know how we are going to handle that requirement yet.

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