Fewer young U.S. drivers seek learner's permit, study says

July 12, 2013 at 1:32 PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 12 (UPI) -- The learner's permit, a rite of passage for many teenagers, is less eagerly anticipated than it once was, U.S. Federal Highway Administration data indicate.

Only about 28 percent of America's 16-year-olds had a driver's license in 2010, down from 46 percent in 1983, CNBC reported Friday.

The statistics cited are from a University of Michigan study based on Federal Highway Administration and Census data.

"The numbers suggest that fewer teens are wanting to drive," said Karl Brauer, senior director of insights at vehicle appraisal analysts Kelley Blue Book.

Reasons cited include the high cost of gasoline, car maintenance and insurance; difficulty in landing a job to pay for a car when the unemployment rate in the United States for 16-19-year-olds stood at 24 percent in June; and the willingness of parents to drive teens around.

A shift in parenting styles suggests parents may not be bothered by their positions as family chauffeurs, CNBC noted.

Brauer added teens in many states are subject to more stringent rules about when, and with whom, they can drive. The changes in laws have led to sharp reductions in traffic fatalities among younger drivers, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said.

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