Yellow Light for Teen Drivers’ Licenses

Julia Wilson, Editor

Blinker. Wheel all the way to the right. Blind spot check. Reverse. Watch for cone… Turn wheel again. Watch for cone… Don’t hit curb!

This is my parallel parking checklist that I reviewed as my dad and I drive to the MVA in Bel Air. I silently sat in the car, partly due to nerves and partly because my dad thought it would be a good idea to practice again before my driver’s test… at 4 a.m. Eight hours later, I was staring at an exhausted picture of myself on my new driver’s license, but I couldn’t be more relieved. I had put off getting my license for months, but finally, I could drive.

According to recent studies, I am not the only teenager who delayed getting licensed. It appears that teens today are waiting longer to get behind the wheel.

USA Today reported that “in 2010, 28% of 16-year-olds had driver’s licenses compared with 44% in 1980 according to research by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan” (Alcindor 4). In 2013, this trend seems to be continuing. Tim William, from Baltimore WJZ, recently interviewed Ragina Averalla, who works for AAA Mid-Atlantic. She stated, “About 54 percent of teens nationwide are waiting until they’re 18 or older to get their driver’s licenses” (Williams 9). Maybe 18 is the new 16.

News articles make many suggestions of possible causes of this trend. The rise of cellphones seem to one plausible reason for this change. Perhaps, the privilege of owning a smartphone is now more appealing than the privilege of driving. Tilo Koslowski, an automotive analyst, suggests, “For younger consumers, the smartphone may be the new shiny cars from previous generations” (Alcindor 7). Cellphones give teenagers the social connection that cars have allowed in the past.

With cellphones, it is seemingly easier to hitch a ride with someone else. In August, the Today Show presented a segment describing another new trend: “cyber hitchhiking.” The segment describes how teens are now relying on social media sites in order find transportation. Sites, such as Twitter and Instagram, allow teenagers to make posts about needed rides, and it appears that this method seems to work. However, this new hitchhiking trend is arguably dangerous. Oftentimes, these posts are visible to the entire public, and it would be easy for teenagers sharing their location, plans, and needs for rides to be tracked by a criminal. However, this hitchhiking method is still a trend despite the obvious dangers.

Additionally, the economy appears to be a controlling factor in the decline in teenage driver license. With the current economy, driving just might be too expensive for teenagers and their parents. Driver’s Education classes, a car, gas, insurance, and maintenance are all expenses that come along with driving, and these bills certainly add up.

The Washington Post reported the results of University of Michigan’s research in Brad Plumer’s article, “Why Aren’t Young People Getting Drivers’ Licenses? Too Much Hassle!” The university’s survey revealed people’s reasons for not getting a license which include lack of time, expense, ability to get rides elsewhere, use of public transportation, and a worry of the effects on environment.

Whatever the reasons may be, it will be interesting to see the effects of this new, apparent slow-down or “yellow light” in teen driver’s licenses within the future.

Works Cited

Alcindor, Yamiche. “Research Shows That Teens in No Hurry to Be behind the Wheel.” USA Today. N.p., 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. <>.

Plumer, Brad. “Why Aren’t Young People Getting Drivers’ Licenses? Too Much Hassle!” The Washington Post. N.p., 7 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. <>.

Williams, Tim. “Study: Many Teens Are Waiting Longer to Get Their Licenses.” CBS Baltimore. N.p., 4 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. <>.

With “Cyber Hitchhiking,” Teens in No Rush to Drive. Today. N.p., 21 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 Sept. 2013. <>.