The Slow Death of the Driver’s License

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It’s pretty common knowledge by now that teenagers don’t drive cars nearly as much as they did back when I was growing up. Partly that’s because getting a license is more onerous, partly it’s because parents are more willing to be chauffeurs, and partly it’s because social media has made it more attractive to spend time at home.

But I was a little surprised to read in the LA Times this morning that this has already had a significant downstream effect. Even among 30-year-olds, the number of people with driver’s licenses is down from 96 percent to 89 percent. That’s a surprisingly large drop. I suppose part of this could be explained by the increasing population of large metro areas with decent transit, but I’m not sure that fits the facts. The population of rural areas has shrunk over the past few decades, but I think most of the corresponding population growth has been in small cities and suburbs, which are tough to get around in without a car.

So….I’m not sure what’s going on. Zipcar and similar services are nowhere near big enough to explain it. I suppose Google has the answers somewhere, but it’s Saturday and I don’t feel like spending the time to find out. I’m going to go toss some frisbees around instead.


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