Senior Christopher Doud has been getting along just fine without something that was once considered an essential part of teenage life.
Fellow senior Luc Nglankong also decided to skip this former rite of passage.
What the two lack is a driver’s license.
And they are not alone. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that less than half (44 percent) of teens obtain a driver’s license within a year of the minimum age for getting a license in their state, and just over half (54 percent) are licensed before their 18th birthday.
That information reflects findings from the latest federal census. Data from the Federal Highway Administration and the Census Bureau suggests that about 28 percent of 16-year-olds had their driver’s license in 2010, compared with about 46 percent of 16-year-olds who were licensed drivers in 1983.
Getting a driver’s license was once one of the most important milestones in a teenager’s life, and though many can still vouch for that statement, the idea that obtaining a license is a rite of passage is becoming less and less prevalent.
Nglankong is one of the many people over 16 without a license and seems to share in this idea.
“I’m currently not trying to get my license,” Nglankong said. “I don’t see it as a necessity right now.”
Doud also doesn’t really consider a license as quite the important landmark that teens in the past might have believed.
“A license isn’t so much a rite of passage as much as it is a way to get away from parents,” he said.
One reason that may explain the decline in getting a license as soon as one is eligible is to avoid driver’s education. At 18, you aren’t required to take any driver’s education classes and therefore you can reduce the cost of driving.
“It’s much cheaper and easier to get a license at 18, but it is also more dangerous due to less driver’s education than a 16-year-old would receive,” Nglankong said.
Doud, who is taking driver’s education courses at West Point Driving School, says that what he paid amounted to a few hundred dollars.
“I can’t remember the exact price, but it was around $200-$300,” Doud said.
Driver’s education classes aren’t the only hefty monetary burdens. Insurance constitutes one of the biggest costs, which is higher for teens, especially males, because they are statistically more likely to be involved in a collision.
According to a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the largest factor that deterred teens from getting a license was not having a car in the first place. The next three biggest factors were the various transportation alternative, the cost of gas, and lack of interest to pursue getting a license.
That lack of interest, according to Nglankong, may be attributed to today’s technological growth.
“Traveling was more widespread back then,” he said. “Instead of driving out every time we want to purchase something or visit a friend, we have access to online shopping and social media, shaping us to become more lazy. Some of these factors contribute to the reason why so many people in today’s age have a lack of incentive to drive, including me.”