Make us your home page
Instagram
Autos | Learning to drive

Teens in no rush to get driver's license

Insurance premiums for teenage drivers average about $2,200 a year.

iStockphoto.com

Insurance premiums for teenage drivers average about $2,200 a year.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Once a symbol of independence, today fewer teens are racing to get their driver's license when they turn 16. • That's mixed news for their parents, who may bemoan a few more years of chauffeur duty but who also delay insurance sticker shock. And it may be good news for the rest of us. Experts say the streets should be safer overall because fewer teens on the road mean fewer accidents.

"This is huge because the biggest killer of our young people is car crashes," said Glen Victor, spokesman for the Florida Safety Council.

Only 30.7 percent of 16-year-olds nationwide got their driver's licenses in 2008, compared with 44.7 percent in 1988, according to federal data released earlier this year. Florida experienced a drop from 58 percent to 55 percent over the past three years. And while Broward and Palm Beach counties don't keep comparable statistics, driving instructors in the area say they've noticed a similar downward trend.

"A lot of teens are very scared to drive," said Craig Emerson, owner of Abbott's Florida Driving School, which offers lessons in Palm Beach and Broward counties. "We haven't seen a complete dropoff but more are waiting."

The trend is the same among boys and girls.

There are several reasons for this, experts say.

Safety is frequently cited as a major concern. According to a 2008 U.S. Department of Transportation report, teenagers have the highest fatal crash rate of any age group, and crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds.

Other reasons: Between texting and Facebook, teens find it easier to stay in touch without face-to-face contact. A Kaiser Family Foundation study published in January found that total media use among 8- to 18-year-olds increased from six hours, 21 minutes daily in 2004 to seven hours, 38 minutes in 2009.

In addition, "teens are involved in so many electives and out-of-school activities that for some of them driving is not the first thing on their priority list," said Kyle Dailey, core curriculum specialist at Broward Schools.

And with the economic downturn, fewer kids have access to cars at home, which is quelling their thirst for a license.

Then there are the costs associated with driving. Insurance for teens is higher than for any other age group, in part because they have the greatest number of accidents, said Loretta Worters, with the Insurance Information Institute in New York City.

According to Carinsurance.com, annual premiums average about $2,200.

"When the economy is in the tank, driving among teens will go down because people have less money to spend on gas and insurance," said Rob Foss, director of the Center for Study of Young Drivers, in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Teens in no rush to get driver's license 12/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Sun Sentinel.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood

    Business

    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa

    Business

    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county

    Water

    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.