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U.S. Teenagers Are Driving Much Less: 4 Theories About Why 635

Posted by timothy
from the time-and-place-restrictions dept.
Paul Fernhout writes "U.S. teenagers just aren't as into driving as they used to be, U.S. government forecasters acknowledged in dramatically altered projections for transportation energy use over the next 25 years." Online presence is one of the reasons mentioned, which makes a lot of sense to me as a factor, no matter the age of the drivers involved. Whatever your age, do you drive less than you did 10 years ago?
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U.S. Teenagers Are Driving Much Less: 4 Theories About Why

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  • Murica Fuck yea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:37PM (#46005481)
    Celebrating how America is more energy efficient because its people can no longer afford to drive.
  • by JDeane (1402533) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:37PM (#46005487) Journal

    Yes I drive a lot less than I used to 10 years ago, but it less to do with the Internet and more to do with the price of gas....

    http://money.cnn.com/2004/03/23/news/economy/gas_aaa/ [cnn.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:42PM (#46005543)

    Since the jobs that used to be filled by teens are now largely filled by immigrants (legal and undocumented) the teens simply don't have the MONEY to drive as much. And for the scholastically inclined they are so busy with schoolwork and activities they dont have the time or money for a car.

  • by beltsbear (2489652) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:46PM (#46005583)

    True! The cost of driving has risen. Mandatory insurance plus the price of gas and harder to repair old cars all contribute. I am not saying a teen cannot learn to fix cars, but more tools are needed then ever. I could have changed most wearing parts of my Delta-88 (teenage car) with tools my dad had lying around.

  • by oic0 (1864384) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:49PM (#46005603)
    More than just the price of gas, I also costs a lot more to do whatever you are going to do when you get where you are going! 10 years ago an outing might have cost me ~30 bucks gas included. 5 in gas, 15 for food, 10 for movie tickets. Now it costs ~60 with 8 for gas, 30 for food, 20 for movie tickets. I am however NOT making twice as much as I was 10 years ago.
  • by weave (48069) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:50PM (#46005607) Journal

    When I was a teenager in the late 70s, there was nothing to do except jump in the car and drive down Main Street and yell out the window to friends loitering in front of the bars, get to the end, come back and do it again, over and over. ("Cruising") or just go on a lot of joyrides.

    If I had an xbox or ps4 back then, I'd have probably been on that instead.

  • by Lije Baley (88936) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:52PM (#46005621)

    If my son is any gauge, the reason they don't drive is because it would require them to leave the house. Whenever we go anywhere, he is always concerned with how far he will be from his computer. The iPad and 3DS will only hold off the DTs for so long...

  • by netsavior (627338) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:53PM (#46005639)
    Amazon is like public transportation for "incidentals" In my household and those of my peers, there is no more "run to the store for these few items," it has been replaced with "is it prime?"
  • by Ly4 (2353328) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:08PM (#46005781)

    Another factor - most driving is no longer 'fun' - It's fighting traffic. it's a job.

    The only place you don't see traffic these days is car commercials.

  • by Ubi_NL (313657) <joris AT ideeel DOT nl> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:12PM (#46005813) Journal

    Then there's a long way to go. Petrol in Europe is still 6 times more expensive. No, really. 6 times.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:32PM (#46006017)

    Then there's a long way to go. Petrol in Europe is still 6 times more expensive. No, really. 6 times.

    Yes, gas is much more expensive in Europe BUT :

    - most of our cities are tailored for people and not cars
    - we have very good public transportation that you americans can't even begin to comprehend
    - taking the car to the grocery store that's 100 meters from your place is just stupid.
    - so you only take the car when absolutely necessary.
    - Just imagine people living up to 100 km from Paris or London and commuting every day to the city on a train. No need to take the car. Saves you a freakton of money.
    - in the US because of your hyper developed suburbia without cars you die.

  • by The Optimizer (14168) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:36PM (#46006051)

    When I was a teen, one of the main functions of driving (and borrowing my parent's car) was to go be with my friends, hanging out or whatever. Otherwise I was stuck at home by myself.

    My own kids are constantly texting, emailing, playing online with, or using other means to interact with their friends without physical proximity. They can do it from anywhere they have wireless connectivity, even when traveling out of town.

    Again, back when I was a teen, we had a single land line telephone. If it wasn't in use, It was possible to call and just talk to one of my friends at a time, provided they were home, their line wasn't busy, and they were willing to be tethered by a cord to the phone's location in the house.

  • by plover (150551) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:53PM (#46006189) Homepage Journal

    There are a ton of historical reasons American cities are built the way they are. First, because almost all of your cities were built long before the existence of cars, American cities were created after the existence of cars. What you don't seen to understand is all the empty space we had 100 years ago. By comparison, the rest of the world is incredibly crowded and land is extremely expensive. Because American land was cheap, and cars were cheap, and gas was cheap, it was easy to live an extra mile away from the city and buy an acre or hectare to give yourself room. Honestly, if it was easily affordable, would you choose to continue to live cheek-to-cheek with your next door neighbor, sharing a wall with him and his noisy children and his smelly cooking, or would you like a garden of your own?

    As American cities grew, people found it very easy and affordable to move 10, 15, or 20 miles away from the city center, and do the same thing. (I know people now who commute 60 miles each way or more in order to live on 5 hectares of their own, or on a lakeshore.) Thus begat suburbs.

    Of course, living 20 miles from the city means you don't want to drive 15 miles to the grocery store, so people built grocery stores out near the houses. But they're still a mile or five away from most people.

    Because the suburban population density is so low compared to the rest of the world, infrastructure is much more expensive. Cities can't afford to run a bus down every suburban street, and the buses can't afford to go every market or shop. So bus stops are often a mile or more from many suburban residents, and they only take you to the main city, never to neighboring suburbs or even to local shops.

    We were built on cheap gas, and now we have to make some serious urban changes to fix it. And those are very expensive.

  • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:57PM (#46006213)

    - taking the car to the grocery store that's 100 meters from your place is just stupid.

    How are you going to get the groceries back home, make 10 trips? I think I'd prefer to drive.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:58PM (#46006221)

    Your conclusion doesn't follow, you know. You're assuming that not just promiscuity rates have to be the same, but individual promiscuity has to be. Picture this scenario. Ten guys and ten girls live together. All ten of the guys have slept with five of the girls in the house within the first ten days. That makes them promiscuous. However, five of the girls engaged in no sexual activity whatsoever. That gives us a 100% male promiscuity rate, and a 50% female promiscuity rate.

    But how can that be! Because "statistically", according to "Sique" on /., the rates have to be equal!

    No, wait, the other five girls simply had more sex. Now it makes sense!

    Please avoid throwing words like "statistical" around until you understand it, for fuck's sake. It doesn't make you look smart, it makes you look like a total idiot.

    Then again, I'm arguing with a total idiot on /. so what does that make me?

  • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:02PM (#46006259)
    Yeah, the strategy to solve "teen road deaths" is keeping them off the roads entirely. Similar to how unemployment is now solved by getting people to drop out of the workforce, houses losing value is solved by printing money, etc.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:17PM (#46006369) Homepage Journal

    What do you do, go once a month and only buy things in cans or glass bottles?

    Or are you just a pencil-necked flid? A medium rucksack load does five of us for a few days.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:18PM (#46006377)

    You just stop every day on the way home from work and buy what you want for that day and maybe the next.

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:27PM (#46006449) Homepage Journal

    How many do you think he needs? I'd have thought one at a time is enough.

  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:29PM (#46006467) Homepage
    You shop everyday or two, not once a week. Duh.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:49PM (#46006611)

    I agree. A lot of my friends who visited usa complain about the abysmal state of public transport there. Every single one of them said that you _need_ to have your own car to really be able to move around. The odd one has mentioned that new york is better but not really comparable to the cities in Europe which have decent public transport.

    In the Netherlands, I was impressed by the public transportation system and felt like "Why would I need my own car here? On the rare occasions that I need it, I can just rent one". This is reflected on the streets. The number of people using cars is very small compared to those who use public transport.

  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:55PM (#46006645)

    - taking the car to the grocery store that's 100 meters from your place is just stupid.

    How are you going to get the groceries back home, make 10 trips? I think I'd prefer to drive.

    My wife lived in Spain for a year, way back in the day, and said people typically did a small shop every (or every other) day buying a few fresh things they needed for that day or the next few. Here in 'murica, we tend to do big, infrequent shops buying lots of stuff all at once - often pre/packaged stuff, with lots of preservatives.

  • Re:Porn ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:11PM (#46006757)

    Hell, yes, on the insurance. I can't comprehend it - I've had pretty much the same premium since I qualified (at the age of 24), so it's been dropping in real terms about in line with inflation. But the kids these days are facing premiums of 10 x as much. I just went to a boardgaming meetup and had this confirmed to me by most of the younger attendees.

    You could don a tinfoil hat and say that someone wants to restrict their mobility.

  • Re:Porn ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:47PM (#46007023)

    Before, teens needed to have a car to impress the girls ...

    ...and today, it's difficult to impress a girl with a car with a car. ;-)

  • by dcollins (135727) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:29PM (#46007305) Homepage

    Your problem is that promiscuity rates are not usually measured in average partners; they are measured in modes or quartiles or something like that. From the article you link to:

    "A 1994 study in the United States, which looked at the number of sexual partners in a lifetime, found that 20% of heterosexual men had only one partner, 55% had two to twenty partners, and 25% had more than twenty partners."

    See? No average partner numbers. Instead, proportions in a defined class.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @04:53PM (#46007477)

    Every family is a single person family? Or every member can carry their own shopping? How about we assume that it is better for a single person to do a family's shopping, and you can state how any of this is relevant.

    Umm, you just go to the grocery store more often. Seriously, is this that hard to understand?

    Just about every normal person in continental Europe goes to the store at least every other day, often every day. You get fresh food -- fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meats, fresh baked goods. Everything tastes a heck of a lot better, and you only have to pay for a refrigerator and pantry about 1/3 or 1/4 of the size of an American one.

    I know you think this may take up a lot of time, but frankly it's worth it -- for the better quality of fresh food. Most Europeans simply plan their daily commute around making a trip to the store (many general stores are located near subway stops and such in major cities, so you can simply stop in on your way home during your commute).

    In American supermarkets, the bonus is that you can almost always go through the "15 items or less" or whatever lane, so check-out is significantly faster if you shop often and carry your goods by hand.

    When I was single (in the U.S.), I used to live a few blocks from a grocery store, and I only drove there maybe once per year -- the rest of the time, I'd just shop once or twice per week, which was enough for a single person carrying things home by hand. For a while with a family, I lived further from a major grocery store, but now I live within walking distance again and have taken to walking there fairly often... though not on a regular basis because I can't commute on foot. If I were commuting on foot, and the grocery store were near my stop, I would definitely buy groceries there many times per week and walk them home.

  • Re:Porn ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:06PM (#46007545)

    Teens drivers are, on average, 4 times as likely to be involved in a crash. They're far more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors like driving drunk or texting. And teens are far less likely to wear a seat belt.

    If policies cost that much, it's because the actuaries arrived at that number for a reason. There's no conspiracy...if it should be cheaper, another competitor would charge less.

  • by excelsior_gr (969383) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:32PM (#46007697)

    Wow, what a ton of bullshit.

    Not only is household taxation in the US less than in the EU (and don't even get me started about VAT) you get to sell your military produce to European countries as well! You do not pay the most for gasoline, either directly or indirectly. You don't have "all the social programs of Europe" because they don't fit in your mentality/way of living, and that's fine by me, but don't give us the crap that you can't afford them because you have to ensure cheap oil for the rest of the world!

  • by spyfrog (552673) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:33PM (#46007703) Homepage

    But Norway, Sweden and Finland have some of Europes highest prices for gasoline

  • by tftp (111690) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:42PM (#46007759) Homepage

    I know this sounds crazy but some people go to the market every day.

    Yes, some people do that. Other people have better things to do with their life than to spend 30 minutes every day in a store. I buy food maybe once in two weeks. Some of it is in cans, other is dry (pasta, rice, flour) and other is frozen, so it can be stored nearly forever. I load the car pretty well on those trips. The store is in about 40 minutes of driving from my home. (There are stores closer than that; the closest is about 15 minutes away, but I dislike it.) I usually stop by the better store when I am in the area for other reasons; and when you are free to pick the day, it's not difficult to find time.

    Sometimes the basket gets quite heavy, but it's still something I could carry 100 meters with little problem. And that's 1+ weeks of groceries for me (yeah I'm single).

    This works if you buy often, and only in small packages. This is expensive. I tend to buy stuff in large packages, they cost far less per unit of food. But one gallon container will be pretty heavy. There is also an issue of how fast can you deliver frozen food to your own freezer. I guess a short trip on a bicycle is not any worse than a long trip in a car, but in some cases this is a factor (for example, pushing a cart for a mile in hot sun vs. driving an a/c car for 5 miles.) Your family may not like melted ice cream.

  • by sandertje (1748324) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:34PM (#46008927)
    "dates that public transport is not running?" ... ermm... short of some kind blizzard - in which case you also won't get very far in a car - there are no dates when there is no public transport. Besides, ever considered that the core network runs 24 hours a day? Live in a dense enough place, and capitalism itself will automatically make 24h/day every-5-or-10-minutes-a-train schedules profitable.

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