My parents put me in a Jeep Wagoneer late in the 1970s, which was almost unbreakable. The tank got me to work and rock concerts. The tank got me through snowstorms which would have left other vehicles stranded by the roadside. You could easily fit myself, 10 of my buddies, and one keg beer into the bag in relative comfort, at least for that keg.
It is a great tank. It would not have been damaged by my son’s 16-year-old hitting a post, unlike our more modern SUV. I am glad that my son, even with no tank, is now able to enjoy the thrill of driving and all the freedom it offers.
My own experience is less frequent. When I was 16 years old, 1.7 million Americans were legally licensed to drive in 1981. The Federal Highway Administration had data for 2019, which shows that just over 1,000,000 16-year olds held licenses. The population grew by approximately 100 millions during the same period. Justin Fox succinctly described the current situation in 2020 Bloomberg News column: In 1984, nearly half of America’s 16-year-olds could drive legally; as of 2018, a quarter could.
It is still not clear what caused the drop in teenage driving. 2013. National GeographicMarianne Lavelle,’s Marianne Lavelle pointed out the rising popularity of online engagement and how it can replace face-to-face meetings. She also noted the increased hassle and high cost of driving. A second factor was the decline in youth employment, meaning that fewer teenagers could afford to own a car. Lavelle was informed by representatives from Highway Loss Data Institute, an insurance company.
The new technology is making cars increasingly expensive. These “extras” also increase the cost of cars to repair, making them more expensive.[s]Increasing car-insurance prices is another factor that deters many teenagers and twenty-somethings.” Wall Street Journal reporter Adrienne Roberts noted in 2019.
Graduated driver licensing laws are also becoming more common in the United States. Most of these laws mandate that teenagers spend at least one hour behind the wheel, and they limit how many minors can travel with them during the period following their licensing. While these laws may reduce road risks, it also makes mobility less appealing. It is a waste of time to drive around town visiting friends when you could save your money and have fun chatting online.
The drop in teenage driving could be accelerated by two years of restrictions due to pandemics. In order to normalize zoom gatherings, supply chain disruptions and a rise in car prices have led to increased costs. “Some used cars” Business InsiderTim Levin, a spokesman for the CIA, stated that they are now worth many thousands more than their hard-to find -counterparts in February 2021.
That’s a shame, because the drop in adult work force participation restored employment opportunities for young people—at least, for those able to show up. To meet demand, the Biden administration launched a pilot program that allowed 18-year olds to become long-distance truckers. These opportunities are available for teens who have the ability to drive.
My son is one such teenager, and he enjoys the same opportunities that my friend and I enjoyed as a teenager. His job is at a supermarket. He then drives to his class at the community college and gets on the road to meet his friends. These are ways that would be familiar to older people, but not so common for 2022. His friends and he will be able to enter adulthood with a valuable skill set and an appreciation for the freedom that it offers. They’ll be able travel and take up jobs.
Just wish that I had the Wagoneer I used to drive him around for the next two years. However, whatever his future car is called, I wish it would be resistant to signs.