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

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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  • Look before I go (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @12:41PM (#46005539)

    I check a store's inventory and maybe make a call before I drive off. Olden days I would need to travel around to different stores to find a special item. More often than not I also mail order supplies I would have bought locally. Sorry Radio Shack. Well, not really.

  • by a4r6 ( 978521 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:12PM (#46005815)
    The whole shift in thinking about burning fuel and the problems that it leads to, however small my contribution, has certainly impacted my lifestyle.

    My decision to live in a place where I can depend on public transportation was influenced by that knowledge.

    The lack of attachment to a physical place, knowing that I can continue to nurture my friendships from a distance, through the internet, also played a big part.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:17PM (#46005867) Journal
    Prices in Europe have also gone up a lot, so while you might expect to see different absolute values, you'd expect to see the same decline. I live in the UK and don't drive. Owning a car is a huge expense (insurance and maintenance, even before you add in the fuel) for little benefit. I've always taken jobs where I could either work remotely or walk / cycle less than 10 minutes each way. I wouldn't consider working somewhere where I'd need to drive to work, or where I'd spend more than 10 minutes commuting, and I'm always amazed at people in the US who are happy to spend more than the equivalent of one working day a week just getting to and from work. At least cycling in, I get some exercise at the same time.
  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:30PM (#46006003)

    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....

    I'm not sure why your comment and link to an ancient article on gas prices (2004?!) got modded insightful, but when you factor in inflation, gas prices aren't particularly high. They're at a pretty normal level compared to historical prices (again, inflation adjusted).

    That being said, the inflation adjusted income of the middle class has been going down for decades. That's more likely to be your culprit.

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:42PM (#46006115) Homepage
    Actually, girls and boys (at least heterosexual ones) have the same promiscuity rates. It has nothing to do with morals, but everything with pure mathematics. If a (heterosexual) boy wants to be promicious, he needs a girl to get on with. Wishing to be more promicious does not translate into actually being more promicious, if there is no opportunity.

    Interestingly though, if you actually ask people about their promiscuity, male persons regularly state higher promiscuity than females. So at least one sex regularly lies about their promiscuity, as from a statistical point of view, the rates should be the same. Questionaries which put the question of sex as last question report less of a difference of the promiscuity rates between the sexes, and questionaries which don't ask for the sex at all yield the highest admitted promiscuity rates.

  • The fun is gone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:46PM (#46006135) Homepage
    When I was in high school, society looked at drinking and driving very differently than today. The drinking age was 18. We would often drive around with several friends drinking. Be it driving or parked somewhere, just sitting, talking , whatever. When the cops would come, if you weren’t a complete mess, all they would do is take your beer and tell you to go home. Additionally, many activities for teens centered around driving. We would go ‘cruising’. A local area where teens would all drive an congregate. Many cities have outlawed it. In addition to social and legal change in drinking attitudes, there are now automated speeding tickets, the cost of insurance, being harassed by law enforcement if just a few teens hangout somewhere. The change is more than the automobile. It’s a social political change that generally looks at young people congregating in public with negativity.
  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @01:49PM (#46006157)

    No, the Europeans pay for both the benefits and the health/enviro costs of petroleum products. Americans just pay for the benefits and shrug off the real costs to their children and future generations. That's why some products are very expensive in Europe - they are priced at what they really cost.

  • Driver Education (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drooling-dog ( 189103 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:07PM (#46006295)

    Driver education was a standard part of the (summer) high school curriculum when I was coming up so very long ago. I don't think that's the case anymore, and and as a result it's not as accessible as it once was. It's much less a thing you do automatically when you hit 16.

    That, and kids are living more of their lives virtually now. More "tactile" skills like driving and fixing mechanical things aren't as cool as the ones involved in manipulating what you see on your screen.

  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:29PM (#46006471) Journal

    No, actually we Americans probably pay the most for gasoline, we just do it indirectly. A huge portion of our income taxes and inflationary debts go to fund the worlds largest military apparatus, which disproportionately expends its efforts in or near oil producing regions, theoretically at least ensuring a constant supply.

    Lefties don't understand why we can't have all the social programs of Europe, and Righties don't understand why we have to have personal income taxes that are so high, and corporate taxes that are event higher, in both cases its because we are paying to make cheap gasoline available.

  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @02:54PM (#46006633)

    The automobile industry also had a lot to do with the current situation by buying up the public (which actually was private) transportation and shutting it down. As Westlake says, the cities were spreading out before the automobile, just in a more sane manner, eg following the tram lines and railroads.
    For better or worse, the market has a heavy influence on development and their aim is not to improve the average persons life, but to sell something.

  • Re: Murica Fuck yea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @03:53PM (#46007063)

    Very true. I'm Australian and moved to America last year, so I have some personal experience of this.

    In Australia I lived around 500 metres from the closest grocery store and we often walked there and filled a couple of large hessian bags with groceries and walked back. The groceries would last several days. The walk itself took 15 minutes out of your day and was a pleasant stroll through low density suburbia - on the sidewalk at first, then on a bike path behind the local high school, past a park and over a pedestrian bridge to the local shopping area.

    I now live in America in a similar suburban area (large homes on separate blocks etc.) and the closest supermarket is, by luck, even closer. Maybe 150 metres or so - can literally see the roof of it out the window. However, despite the area being very similar in terms of density and layout, walking there is significantly more difficult. Firstly, while my street has a sidewalk, some don't. From where I am, I have to walk down this unsaved embankment next to a road and look very awkward in doing so. Not to mention its covered with knee deep snow this time of year. Secondly I then have to cross a four lane road and there is no tunnel, bridge or signalled pedestrian crossing like you'd find in Australia - even right across from the shopping area (which is reasonably sized with a supermarket, pharmacy, hairdresser, restaurants ... at least 15 businesses located together, so you'd think there'd be quite a few people trying to get there?)

    So while you can walk there, it's much less convenient/pleasant. I have been guilty of the drive 100 metres to the store thing myself, even though I would never have done so back home, despite living in a very similar suburban area (Australia is just as suburbanised as the US, not like Europe at all, and yet has much better pedestrian access to things than here).

  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:03PM (#46007529)

    oh bullshit. You get an engine code, drive to autozone (except in the republic of california where the lawyers own everything) and the code scanner tells you what's wrong. No more "what's wrong with the carburetor and it's 1000 parts. It's now plug-in diagnostic computers. Oh, and they don't break as much, so you don't do that as much.

    No, sorry, it is significantly harder. Particularly routine maintenance -- and I do think it's deliberate. On a recent car, I discovered that to change the oil, the only reasonable way to change the filter without a lift was to take a wheel off.

    When my dad was changing oil in cars, he could crawl underneath, pull the plug, access the filter from some reasonable spot, and all was relatively simple. If I don't have access to a lift, I have to buy jack stands and take the wheel off -- just to change the oil and filter.

    I could go on with other examples of basic maintenance -- like having batteries that require just the right length socket to get them out (too short, and you can't get to it, too long and you hit something), or making headlight replacement so annoying that you have to take half of the front quarter of the car apart -- and this is only with the few cars I've dealt with in the past few years... mainstream models

    We're not talking about complicated repairs here. Basic maintenance has become a pain for many vehicles unless you're willing to go out and buy a special tool for each job or go through a ridiculously complex series of steps if you don't have access to the kind of stuff in a professional garage.

  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by excelsior_gr ( 969383 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:43PM (#46007769)

    In comparison to Europeans, they do. They buy more packaged goods and the packaged goods in the US last longer than in the EU. Europeans make far more supermarket runs per week than Americans.

    Source: A document that I found at work, written by Americans to help their fellow Americans settle in Germany. They gave warning that food spoils faster than they are used to in the US, that it is normal to go to the supermarket once a day,

  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:26PM (#46008851)

    One must understand that while European cities we built, like most cities around the world and like the older cities in US, around natural needs of the community over centuries, the main buildup of US cities happened as the car boom started. As a result, they were built "inside out" from what cities all over the world generally look. Instead of having city centre that is very densely populated and most prestigious to live in, and various areas outside of it that are less prestigious to live in and less densely populated, US cities were built for a single purpose - to ensure that any family would need a car, preferably several cars to meet their needs.

    That means that city centre would have to be built to be not prestigious and generally undesireable to live in, while suburbs surrounding it would be more prestigious to live in and preferably more densely populated. This creates a modern US city - where city centre is something of a slum (outside skyscraper inhabitants), while outlying neighbourhoods are extremely wealthy.

    This is something that a lot of people that live both in US and abroad generally come to notice first. There are some exceptions when it comes to cities that became large before the boom, such as New York. Incidentally, there's a lot less car ownership in New York and far more functional public transit as a result of more traditional city layout.

  • Re:Murica Fuck yea! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BeaverCleaver ( 673164 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:35PM (#46008937)

    All good points, and valid. However there were also some VERY shady deals to deliberately dismantle public transport on the USA, often misusing anti-monopoly legislation to gut the streetcar (tram) networks.

    This is especially evident in LA, where the freeways have taken over the same routes that the old streetcars used to.

    Yes, the example above is familiar - it was used [with some historical accuracy, ironically] in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" []

    More on the "streetcar scandal" at []

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay