According to the Federal Highway Administration, the percentage of American teenagers bothering to get their licenses has effectively plateaued at a low point. Nearly 48 percent of 16-year-olds in this country could legally drive in 1984; that number settled to just 25.6 percent in 2018. The reasons are more complicated than just the younger generation’s snubbing of the automobile.
A Bloomberg report recently examined the data-faulted restrictions imposed in the 1990s. These included raising the number of “practice hours” those under 18 have to endure (with a guardian) before getting the important slip of paper, minimizing the number of passengers they can carry once they have a license, and rules against driving late at night. Despite walking back teenage freedom to some degree, it’s broadly believed these initiatives helped improve roadway safety by not throwing young drivers into the pool without supervision.
But creating more hoops for teens to jump through may also have discouraged them from rushing out to get their license.
While some of this has simply shifted the age brackets for when younger people decide to pick up their driving certification, trending older, Bloomberg believes it had broader implications on society as a whole: