The VIEW from here

Teens not as eager to learn to drive? Not my kid

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

I read a report this week from Reuters which says many of today’s teenagers consider learning to drive and driving in general to be a “huge hassle.”

I nearly fell out of my chair reading this. One of the biggest rights of passage to adulthood for generations has been learning to drive. As teenagers we wanted the freedom and responsibility of getting that license and getting out on the road.

The report indicates there are several reasons for this newfound aversion to driving by today’s teenagers — it’s unnecessary with public transportation, they don’t want the responsibility of being behind the wheel and, in some cases, it’s just sheer laziness.

The new “right of passage” into adulthood now is owning a cellphone. Seriously? Well I guess then that makes sense because it’s hard to text someone 24/7 with a cellphone if you are driving somewhere.

There is hope, however. I know for a fact that my own teenager wants to drive, because she just took driver’s training. It wasn’t something she had to do right now because she’s still a few years away from owning a car, but Lucy wanted to get it over so she would be ready as soon as she was old enough.

To me her having a driver’s license is far more important than having a cellphone (though she has one, like most other teens). Driving is a valuable skill, especially in suburban areas like Genesee County where there isn’t constant, reliable mass transportation. She will need to get around on her own some day and getting that license is key to that mobility.

The reduction in young drivers has grabbed the attention of the University of Michigan, which did a study that showed younger people are driving less, turning instead to bikes and carsharing to get around, because of the cost and environmental impact of owning an automobile.

Car dealers are having a hard time targeting the “Generation

Y” young adults because they are looking for affordability and at environmental concerns.

These young adults have grown up in what could be considered economic hard times and they are concerned about the cost of owning and maintaining a car.

This is all fine and good, but for me I think it all goes back to this society’s continued spiral downward to being more dependent on technology. Why drive to a job or go somewhere and socialize with real people when technology is making it so we can communicate with people instantly and without verbal conversation? You can “socialize” by cellphone and computer, you can work from home in some professions, so who needs a car?

I’m glad Lucy will someday drive and even though I will worry about her on the road I would rather see her mobile and able to take charge of her life than sitting at home glued to her cellphone, afraid to go out into the world. To me she will be more productive and happier overall when she has a license and car and is able to work and socialize.

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