Remember when getting your driver’s license was the rite of passage for every teenager? That coveted piece of plastic was somehow the key that unlocked a door of new freedoms. Today, things have changed, and fewer teens are getting a driver’s license than they have in decades past. In 2010, less than 1 in 3 teenagers had a license at age 16. Continue reading to find out why trends are changing and how to you can determine if your teen is ready to take the plunge.
Why Fewer Teens are Driving
Researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed young adults (starting at age 18) who did not yet have their driver’s licenses. They asked them their number one reason for going without, and the responses seemed to reflect the challenges that young people face today. Among their answers, the number one response was that the individual did not have enough time to invest in studying for and getting a driver’s license. The number two reason was tied to the cost of maintaining a vehicle, and the third answer was the ease of getting free transportation from other people.
It makes sense. While today’s teens may or may not be any busier than teens in the past, we do know that the efforts required to get a license have evolved over the years. Not only do teens need to pass driver safety tests and complete driver’s education courses, but they are also required to complete a minimum number of hours behind the wheel with an approved sponsor. Even then, licenses are provisional and contain restrictions designed to keep them safe in their early years of driving.
Teens with cars often find the upkeep stressful. In addition to attending school, they must cope with the rising cost of maintenance and ownership, which can be a real burden for a cash-strapped student.
Should Your Teen Get a Driver’s License?
It can be difficult to know when your teen is ready. After all, car accidents are the number one cause of fatalities in teens over 15, so this decision is an important one. Just because he or she has expressed interest in doing so does not mean now is the time to do it. Likewise, forcing your teen to get a license because your household is in need of another driver is not a good idea, either.
To help you make the decision, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my teen want to drive?
- Why does my teen want to drive?
- Does my teen tend to bend or test the rules?
- Does my teen get into trouble when I’m not around?
- Is my teen easily distracted?
- Does my teenager show good judgment in difficult situations?
- Does my teen know how to stand up to peer pressure?
- Am I ready for the financial responsibility of car insurance for teens?
- Is my teen capable of being financially responsible?
If your teen is old enough to get a license, the choice to do so is between you and your child. You will know when the time is right.