Teens Still See Driver's License As Key to Independence
Study Finds Teens Motivated to Learn How to Drive In Order to Rely Less on Parents
28 Sep, 2016, 07:00 ET
AUSTIN, Texas, Sept. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Are teens so content relying on mom and dad for rides that they don't feel the need to get a driver license? Not the case, a new study by Aceable Drivers Ed finds. Although the overall number of young drivers has declined in the last 30 years, according to research by the University of Michigan, teens are still motivated to start driving in order to gain independence, and in many cases, are the ones to bring up the topic of drivers ed in their households, results from the Aceable study show.
While there might be fewer teens getting licensed, those who do see it as the key to their freedom. Aftering surveying 291 teens in Texas and California who had either completed or were in the process of completing drivers ed, Aceable found that more than 50 percent were motivated to take the course so that they didn't have to rely on their parents for rides anymore. Telling -- but is it mom and dad who are pushing teens into the driver's seat? Hardly. Just over 17 percent of respondents said they took the course because their parents wanted them to or to help with family driving, while 20 percent cited driving to school as their motivation. The rest named getting a job or "other" as their reason for wanting to get behind the wheel.
"The driver's license is still very much a milestone marker on any teenager's path toward independence," said Blake Garrett, founder and CEO of Aceable. "Teens naturally seek more autonomy as they get older -- that's not going away anytime soon -- and learning how to drive is an important part of that."
Teens aren't just motivated to complete drivers ed, they're also eager to start it. About 37 percent of respondents said that they were the ones in their household who made the decision to take drivers ed, while 52 percent said they and their parents decided together. Just 11 percent said their parents decided for them. These findings are a far cry from recent articles written about drivers ed that suggest teens aren't interested in driving at all.
In an article published in the Chicago Tribune last year, author by Jerry Davich asks: "Why learn how to drive, earn a license and deal with a car purchase and insurance hassles when mommy and daddy will continue to drive you everywhere until you leave for college?" As one participant in the Aceable study would respond, "So I could drive to school, not rely on everyone to drive me around and so I could have a better chance of getting a job because I will have my own transportation." Or, as another participant quite simply stated, "Because I want to be independent."
So why are some teens waiting to drive? In a second study conducted by Aceable that surveyed 301 adults ages 18 or older who were currently taking or had recently finished drivers ed, about 30 percent of respondents said they waited to take the course because of lack of resources or some financial reason (did not have a car, inability to afford gas, insurance or drivers ed). These findings corroborate research compiled by the Highway Data Loss Institute in 2013, which found that the decrease in the number of teen drivers corresponded with a dip in the economy. Another 11 percent of survey respondents said they waited to take drivers ed simply because their parents wouldn't let them before the age of 18. Seems like in some cases, mom isn't quite ready to hand over the car keys, even if their son or daughter is asking for them.
Although previous findings tells us that teens drive less than they did 30 years ago, if this new study is any indication, it's not because they aren't ready to fly away from the nest.
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