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1/2/2014 - Fewer teens driving due to cost concerns

Fewer teens driving due to cost concerns

A new study suggests that teenagers aren't driving nearly as frequently as they used to, not because they don't want to, but rather because they don't have the money to pay for all that it comes with.

The analysis, which was performed by the Highway Loss Data Institute, reviewed statistics collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding how many high school seniors had a license in 2010 compared with 1996. In that 14-year period driver's license ownership fell from 85% to 73%. Additionally, the frequency with which seniors got behind the wheel in the typical seven-day stretch dropped from 22% to 15%.

Matt Moore, vice president of the HLDI, indicated that much of the diminishment in driving activity could very well stem from the fact that fewer teenagers - and young people in general - are working.

"It looks like teens just can't afford to drive," said Moore.

He added that it boils down to the fact that without regular employment, young people don't have the money to pay for things like fuel, car insurance, registration fees and ongoing maintenance expenses.

In order to determine if teens are, in fact, not working in the numbers that they used to, HLDI looked at unemployment rates for teens and prime-age workers, defined as individuals between 35 and 54 years of age. From 2006 to 2010, they found that both groups were seeking employment to a higher degree, but in larger numbers among those not yet in their twenties.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in September 2013 - the latest numbers based on when this study was released - was 7.2%. However, among teenagers, it stood at 21.4%.

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