Sweet 16 used to be a key milestone and one step closer to freedom, autonomy and adulthood. This is largely because obtaining a driver’s license was such a rite of passage. Most teens viewed this step as not only necessary but also rewarding. Today, kids are not as quick to seek a driver’s license. Additionally, they seem to get in more accidents than teens of generations past. Here are three reasons for that.
1. Regulatory Signs Can Be Confusing
Many people fail the written part of their driving test due to the inaccurate identification of regulatory signs. The number of signs has increased and some are fairly obscure. The ubiquitous signs like stop signs, yield signs and railroad crossings are, of course, second nature. But others can be confusing, especially when they are rarely seen.
2. Technology Replaced Live Interaction
The world is more connected today than it has ever been. The paradox, of course, is that people are more isolated than ever. Social media provides a false sense of connection and intimacy that can only be found in personal interactions with others. Before the explosion of social media and smartphones, teens viewed a driver’s license as a way to facilitate their interaction with friends and social activities. Today, social media is a social activity with likes determining popularity.
3. Third-Party Drivers Provide an Alternative.
There are now multiple companies spanning multiple countries—from small towns to large cities—that provide rides to people. These drivers and companies have replaced expensive taxi rides and long wait times. The only options previously available to teens were having a parent drive them or having a friend with a license. Today, though, people of all ages can be driven from one destination to another with a moment’s notice and for a fraction of the cost it would take for a car payment, car maintenance, and gas.
What are we to think of Generation Z and their disinterest in obtaining a driver’s license? On the one hand, those who do seek driver’s licenses seem to incur a higher risk of auto accidents, which is probably at least partially due to the distractions that come along with smartphones along with inexperience. On the other hand, this may reflect a larger issue of a potential “failure to thrive” as kids are now also more likely to live at home longer and hold off on marriage and having kids. Time will tell whether this trend is benign or reflects a larger issue.