Texting While (Not) Driving


Tom Vanderbilt links to an article in Ad Age about the decline in drivers licenses among youth between 1978 and 2008 in the US. This data surprises me, not just the decline in youth licenses, which can be explained as Tom notes by graduated driver's licensing programs, but a decline between 1998 and 2008 for all drivers by age group, which is shown at the bottom of the Ad Age article according to USDOT. While I know auto ownership peaked in the past few years (with a decline in total cars last year), and the recession and high gas prices have changed patterns in the past half decade, this is remarkable if true.

I retain some skepticism about whether this is instead explained by a switch to other forms of IDs among non-drivers, (i.e. in the past a DL was considered standard ID, so people got that from the DMV even if they did not drive) or some sort of other accounting issue.


Some Europeans have commented on the drop in driver's license acquisition among young people there, as well (I believe Barbara Lenz of Germany and maybe Randi Hjorthol of Norway would have looked at this, doubtless among others). I too found it hard to believe, and think your suggested explanation makes sense, but wonder if the same would hold in Europe.

I’ve been seeing this with my kids and their friends. None of my kids (ages 17, 19, and 22) and few of their friends has a license. They view a car as expensive and car ownership yet another hassle in a complicated life.

A combination of bike riding, transit, and hitching a ride with family or friend seems to do for them.

David Levinson

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on June 1, 2010 4:34 PM.

Gasoline Prices and Their Relationship to Drunk-Driving Crashes was the previous entry in this blog.

Modeling the Minneapolis Skyway Network is the next entry in this blog.

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