It used to be that getting a driver's license was considered a crucial milestone on the path to adulthood -- a laminated, card-sized declaration of independence from your parents. But over the past three decades, getting behind the wheel has lost its appeal for a large chunk of American teens and twenty-somethings, as shown in this graph from a report by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
What's the cause? Sivak and Schoettle say we can thank the Internet. A previous study of theirs found that the fraction of young drivers with licenses was inversely proportional to web access. Of course, no single cause can explain a complicated cultural trend such as how we get around. But its reasonable to suspect that young people's love of the Internet is playing a role.
After all, who needs to drive over to a friend's house when you have GChat?
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