Teenagers are less eager to get behind the wheel than ever before. In 1983, 46% of 16-year-olds had a driver's license. That figure dropped to 31% by 2008:
The decline in driving by younger Americans is fed by many factors: the high cost of gas and insurance at a time of economic insecurity; tighter restrictions on teen drivers in many states; and roads that are more congested than ever, making driving less fun than ever. But the impact of the internet is big too. "It is possible that the availability of virtual contact through electronic means reduces the need for actual contact among young people," says Michael Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and coauthor of the study on driver's licenses. "Furthermore, some young people feel that driving interferes with texting and other electronic communication."
As Clive Thompson put it last year:
Texting while driving is, in essence, a wake-up call to America. It illustrates our real, and bigger, predicament: The country is currently better suited to cars than to communication. This is completely bonkers.