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Teen driving culture sputters

By Keirah Chen and Bertina Fan Dec. 9, 2020

Senior Irum Han gets ready to drive. // Jonathan Morris Photo

Driving, and its accompanying sense of independence, became a staple and coming-of-age milestone for teenagers during the 20th century. However, in recent decades, high schoolers have started to show less interest in this skill; the Federal Highway Administration found that the percentage of 16-year-olds with a driver’s license dropped 22.2 percent from 1984 to 2018.

According to The Atlantic, part of the reason for this trend is the rising prices of cars. In the 1900s, people had access to cheaper “junker” cars that could be repaired and restored individually. However, as cars have become more technologically advanced, the high costs of buying as well as repairing them have barred low-income teenagers from driving. Researchers from the University of Michigan also found that 32 percent of teen respondents thought maintaining a vehicle was too costly.

...because 16- to 19-year-olds are at highest risk for motor vehicle crashes...the United States has made it more difficult for those under the age of 18 to obtain a license...

Furthermore, because 16- to 19-year-olds are at highest risk for motor vehicle crashes, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States has made it more difficult for those under the age of 18 to obtain a license by restricting nighttime driving and making driver-education less accessible. Although this has discouraged teenagers from acquiring their licenses early, it has also proven to be beneficial. The Washington Post affirms that restrictions and bans on nighttime driving and cellphone usage during driving have dropped the percentage of teen driving risks by 30 percent.

While teens once derived a sense of freedom from driving, young adults now engage in technology and social media to fulfill that need. The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute explained that social media has been taking the place of transportation, as people can now easily communicate online without needing to drive to see each other in-person.

“Driving is convenient for many people, but it is not necessary for everyone, since there are many companies that provide food delivery

Junior Rachael Qian sits in her services and online shopping that can

Honda in the parking lot. be accessed through electronic

// Jonathan Ke Photo devices,” Junior Brian Tran said.

In addition to the internet allowing people to delivered goods and services, society has also become more dependent on Uber, Lyft and other rideshare apps, which do not require a license. As a consequence, many young adults have grown dependent on external sources for transportation. In fact, the Startup reported that based on data found by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 31 percent of respondents relied on other people for rides.

Poll: Do you have your driver’s permit or license?

6.4% Yes 93.6% No

Compiled by Bertina Fan

At the school, not having a license has become common—according to poll results, only about 6.4 percent of students own a driver’s license, while 22.5 percent plan on applying for one when they are 16 years old. For those who do drive, the school provides parking spots that students can reserve by purchasing a parking pass. However, most students are driven to school by family members or friends.

“I have not started learning how to drive because of the large amount of homework I have. I am too busy right now to get a license, but I believe that learning how to drive is a valuable learning experience for all teenagers since it teaches responsibility and makes us less dependent on others,” Sophomore Avissa Abbaszadegan said.

Poll: Do you plan on applying for your driver’s permit or license when you are of age?

22% Yes 78% No

Compiled by Bertina Fan

Deemed as a “rite-of-passage” event of adolescence in past decades, the sentiment surrounding teenage driving has since evolved as technological and societal developments continue to impact the lives of teens.


About the Contributors

Keirah Chen

Staff Writer

Keirah Chen is a sophomore at Leland high school and is a staff writer. She likes going places with friends and watching horror movies.

Bertina Fan

Staff Writer

Bertina Fan is a sophomore at Leland High School and is a staff writer for The Charger Account. She likes to start off messages with "ヾ(°∇°*) Hi!"

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