Remember how, in Clueless, Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher fails her driver’s test after nearly killing a biker and scraping her car alongside several parked cars? And then how she asks, “Do you think I should write them a note?” as she drives away? And then how, at the climax of the movie, her friend Tai (Brittany Murphy) calls her “a virgin who can’t drive” and it is just the harshest burn?
Well, that was a fictionalized version of the ‘90s, and this is now. Things are different.
Young people are not getting driver’s licenses so much anymore. In fact, no one is. According to a new study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the percentage of people with a driver’s license decreased between 2011 and 2014, across all age groups. For people aged 16 to 44, that percentage has been decreasing steadily since 1983.
It’s especially pronounced for the teens—in 2014, just 24.5 percent of 16-year-olds had a license, a 47-percent decrease from 1983, when 46.2 percent did. And at the tail end of the teen years, 69 percent of 19-year-olds had licenses in 2014, compared to 87.3 percent in 1983, a 21-percent decrease.
Among young adults, the declines are smaller but still significant—16.4 percent fewer 20-to-24-year-olds had licenses in 2014 than in 1983, 11 percent fewer 25-to-29-year-olds, 10.3 percent fewer 30-to-34-year-olds, and 7.4 percent fewer 35-to-39-year-olds. For people between 40 and 54, the declines were small, less than 5 percent.