By on March 30, 2012

Video killed the radio star. And the Internet is about to kill the auto industry. Researchers at the University of Michigan noted a disturbing trend: More young adults would rather surf the web than cruise the highway.  In a new study, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute found that a higher proportion of Internet users is associated with fewer drivers licenses among young persons.

It is a worldwide trend. Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway and South Korea have seen similar declines over time.

About 94 percent of Americans in their 20s had a driver’s license in 1983. In 2008, that number had dropped to about 84 percent.

 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

99 Comments on “Young People Drive Less, Surf More...”


  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Coffee – check.
    Cigarette – check.
    Faux wood paneling – check.
    Dot matrix printer – check.
    Cool glasses- check and check..

    Not surprising.. this guy has got it going on right at his desk..
    Who needs a stinking license anyway? Seriously though, I would reckon the price of buying, insuring, maintaining and fueling a vehicle must have something to do with it.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i love the disconnect with the inline ads i get…

    one is for the Jaguar XKR and the other is for the new 911 991 Carrera

    they should be advertising hand cream and kleenex?

    i think this neatly ties in with the constant anti-driving theme shown here… car makers have a real fight on their hands in the coming years… and their enemy isn’t the consumer… its the stuff that is replacing the lust for cars and the things that are making ownership onerous

    as if the Fiatyslers of the world haven’t got enough issues.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    Yup.

    It’s damn near impossible for a young person to buy, insure, and put fuel into their own car these days. Sure, you’ve got your accounting majors and wiz-kids making big bucks, but most of them would rather use the money for a car on a nicer apartment near their job.

    Because they’re smart.

    When the most exciting car in your parents’ garage is a two-door Toyota Solara, why should you give a damn about cars? If he can’t change a tire or oil, why should you?

    Remember, car makers didn’t help themselves by building crappy cars that got passed down to young people. After experiencing the unrelenting repair hell of many 80′s and 90′s domestic cars, it might seem more prudent to forgo cars altogether. Car guys don’t help their own cause most of the time either.

    But there really isn’t anything automakers can do to bring these buyers back. College is still a top priority for most young people, and the debt from going to even a public institution is more than a lot of people can afford coming out of school. I could have bought any car $40,000 and less for what college costs me per month.

    Instead I’ll keep buying older Hondas and running them into the ground, which is probably the cheapest way to own a car, though even that is far from cheap (my check engine light went on driving my gf to work this morning. UGH).

    Even I, a certifiable car nut, feel a twinge of jealousy when my friends are going out to Happy Hour every Friday and spending the money they saved by not owning a car on wings and beer, or buying the latest and greatest video game (I can’t even afford to finish the Mass Effect series!!)

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Why is that trend so disturbing? What I find disturbing is the expense of insurance, the expense of gasoline and $50,000 4 cylinder BMWs. Corporate greed is disturbing and mark my words, they will get theirs in the end – case in point.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      Except for the part where the cars you’re mentioning aren’t trying to compete with supercars or even Mustangs, and also the fact those lowly fours aren’t naturally aspirated, and put out comparable hp/torque to larger six liters of yesterday.

      If you’re spending $50,000 on a car, there are PLENTY that have larger engines and are faster than the BMWs you mention. The BMWs serve an entirely different purpose.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        Not sure if I understand what you’re saying and if you entirely got what I was trying to get across. But to be blunt, anyone who spends $50,000 on a 4 cylinder BMW just might be related to Ben Dover and I bet paid $35,000 for their daughter’s MINI Cooper graduation present. That my friend, is the BMW way. Don’t be a victim.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    Bertel, why do you feel it’s a “disturbing trend”?

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      Well, I’m not Bertel (though I am of German lineage!), but I’ll take a stab at it:

      It’s disturbing because without a market of “new blood”, the industry will inevitably begin to contract (the recent bailout crisis is probably a harbinger) and the types of cars we all love around here will likely be the first casualties when this happens.

      (On the upside, there will be plenty of gas left for those of us who would rather listen to the sounds of a V8 at full throttle than crappy, overcompressed, autotuned music on an iPhone!)

  • avatar
    mdensch

    As poorly as some of them drive, I see this as a positive. Let’s accelerate the trend by banning automatic transmissions.

  • avatar
    dvdlgh

    In the larger cities I will agree. In smaller cities and suburbs much less so. In rural America not at all.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Both the auto-industry and the regulators who oversee them however seem fixated on urban automotive use, SUVs that don’t go off-road, favoring EV over diesel for fear of smog, all such things that make no damn sense to country-folk like me but are all about the assumption that the people who don’t live in an Urban or Suburban environment are just a micro-minority of easily ignored outliers.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    It’s the old and oft-used science fiction scenario of wireheads and pod-people becoming reality. Previous generations of kids just couldn’t wait to obtain that driver’s license and get out of the goddamn parents’ house even for just a short while. Now just about everything one needs for entertainment is right there in the bedroom or on the smartphone/tablet. Just wait until USB “personal pleasure attachments” become widely available – you’ll see tumbleweeds rolling in the streets.

    • 0 avatar
      Caboose

      But they *are* getting out of their parents’ house…by escaping into the World of Warcraft.

      They can interact with their friends, act like goofballs, have stories to tell, and all for just $14.95 per month. Which is, like, three gallons of gas, Man.

      All that, plus the added bonus that, by staying home, they are much less likely to get plastered by some Officer Testosterone driving his Crown Vicki at 90-plus miles per hour directly up their butts.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        I’m wrapping up five weeks of parental leave, without much time for socializing outside the house (not with a baby and a two-year-old) or even internet usage. Social media is not a substitute for talking to people face-to-face.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        I fully agree that there is no substitute for face-to-face, but try telling that to some of the kids out there. I’m amused by seeing clumps of young people sitting around in silence, each wearing headphones and totally absorbed in their games or texting.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        geeber,

        but talking with people about cars, unless you have a very car interested group of friends, is generally more interesting on TTAC than face to face.

        And the same probably goes for many other interests, as well.

        Face to face conversation amongst unselecteds, tend to be awfully lowest common denominator heavy.

  • avatar
    fisher72

    That picture is awesome!

    I believe this is also part of a trend of a younger generation wanting a lot less. Maintaining and paying for a lot less and having more economic and time freedom.

    Even though we lament the automatic transmissions and 4 cyl cars, many of them are far faster than some of the glorious cars of the 70′s and 80′s.

    As a long time auto enthusiast, I am part of it. 99% of my drive is absolute drivel and about to get a nice highly efficient automatic trans FWD car for my 100 mile round trip commute.

  • avatar
    skor

    Lack of Jobs that pay a living wage (even for college grads).
    Tens of thousands of dollars in the hole after graduating.
    Closets now rented out as apartments for $1K per month
    High car prices.
    High insurance prices.
    High gas prices.
    High repair costs.
    Lack of DIY skills caused by deindustrialization and shop classes replaced by computer lab.
    Availability of internet and smartphones.

    Out of all the possible reasons why kids don’t buy cars these days, I’ll guess that the net is the root cause.

    • 0 avatar
      mdub523

      It has to be the money. I attend a maritime academy where many graduates who are willing to ship out for more than seven or eight months per year have a pretty reasonable shot of making six figures in their first year out. And guess what? Seniors around here (many of whom have jobs already) talk about the awesome cars they’re going to buy. Of course this is not the necessarily the most fiscally responsible thing to do but if you’re a 23 year old who just got off a ship (where you are spending nothing) after eight months and banked $90,000 after taxes you might be tempted to get a nice set of wheels too. Also, sexism alert, women (at least the kind sailors like) still seem to notice a guy who has a decent car. Car lust is not dead.

    • 0 avatar
      stryker1

      +1
      nuff said

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      High car prices.
      High insurance prices.
      High gas prices.
      High repair costs.

      Sounds like the 1970′s. Some things really dont change that much from one generation to the next.

    • 0 avatar
      turbobrick

      But computer classes don’t even attract kids anymore because OS’s and applications have evolved to the point where they’re operable by any Epsilon-minus semi-moron. So the end result is kids don’t know how to fix anything mechanical and they’re still clueless about computers.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      And if $$$ is a problem – where is a person going to go that’s free?

  • avatar
    windswords

    Can anyone identify his computer and monitor? Extra point for the make and model of the printer.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      That looks like a Panasonic printer. I agree with Bertel that it looks like a PC XT computer, and whatever green screen monitor they offered with those.

    • 0 avatar
      6rad

      Looks like an IBM XT.

      Panasonic printer. Maybe a KX-P1624?

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        I wondered if anyone would make a reference to the printer. Maybe a KXP-1180? We had one of those to go with our Commodore 128 and then it saw use with a 386 DX-40. Combined with really cheap dot matrix paper, it worked well to make “improved” interim report cards for people in high school.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        If that’s an original IBM case, I’d guess that’s the model 5150. As a fan of the buckling spring “clicker” keyboard design, I’m getting a kick out of seeing that Selectric-style keyboard in use.

        http://www.pckeyboard.com for those who just can’t live without their clicking keyboards – and you can rebuild individual keys if the springs wear out.

        My vote’s for the 1180 model designation as well. By the time 24 pin dot matrix printers rolled around, most users were already enjoying the use of 386-based computer systems.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      That’s an IBM model F keyboard, which implies either the original IBM PC or the PC XT.

      Here’s the best part: I’m typing this entry on that very same 30-year-old keyboard right this minute! It’s hooked up through a non-trivial converter box (i.e.: the signals are converted, not just a wires rerouted).

      Here’s a company that sells them: http://www.clickykeyboards.com/index.cfm/fa/items.main/parentcat/11066/subcatid/0/id/512069

      Note that you’ll probably spend north of $100 on the keyboard and some amount of time/effort/money on a signal converter. IBM model M keyboards are much easier to convert, but don’t have the same key action.

  • avatar

    Actually, that kid is more my ripe age.

    The machine looks like an early 1980s vintage IBM XT. Come on, guys, who still has 3M 5 1/4 floppies?

    Printer, I’d say Epson or OKI.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      First computer I ever touched was some box running CP/M using 8 inch floppies. The year after I got an account of a DEC PDP-10 running some flavor of Unix. That machine was hooked to something called the ARPANET. I had an email account in 1983.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> The year after I got an account of a DEC PDP-10 running some flavor of Unix.

        I don’t remember a Unix port on the PDP-10 in 83. It was probably TOPS-10 or 20/TENEX in 83 – or the machine could have been an 11/10. My start in UNIX was in 77 on an 11/40. We used to commandeer machines costing 6 figures or more and play games on weekends and evenings.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that it probably was a PDP-11. I never heard of UNIX used on a 10, and although it’s a possibility (there was a UNIX for BESM-6, for example), it does not seem likely. There were in fact 11/70s on ARPANET, so that recollection may not be entirely off. ARPANET, of course, required the host getting hooked to IMP somehow, but it’s not like it was impossible for UNIBUS 11s. I kind of doubt very much it were possible in 1983 though. The 1983 is the year when the move away from NCP to TCP/IP happened and I think the -11 didn’t get TCP until BSD 2.9, which was a rather heroic effort at the tail end of -11.

      • 0 avatar
        skor

        @mcs, It was my first year in college (83-84), I was not a CS major…economics/accounting…..that machine was a DEC….10? 11?, I can’t be sure now. I took 9 credits in intro computer courses because it was obvious that’s where the world was headed. That machine must have been on ARPANET, since I was emailing people at other schools, and opening files from machines at other schools. The first spreadsheet program I learned was VisiCalc.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      That kid is probably a startup millionaire by now. And he can drive anything he wants… that is, if he wanted to drive.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Bertel, where did you find that picture of yourself in college?

  • avatar
    mac

    Yep. As a guy in my mid-20s, I can’t imagine “just cruising” as an activity that people actually do. With gas prices the way they are, going to a super-overpriced 3D movie and buying some super-overpriced concessions would still probably be cheaper than driving around for 3 hours.

    Remember, nowadays it’s a basic social necessity for young people to have a smartphone with a $100/month data plan. And college is getting more and more expensive.

    And, although I have some gearhead friends (two Miatas and a pre-ordered BRZ among them), I would also say that about half of my friends don’t own cars at all. I live in a city with good public transit, so there’s no *need*, per say. Some of them are otherwise very mechanically inclined, but they have never been exposed to the inner mechanical workings of a car, and they just don’t care.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      As a car guy I have to agree with that statement. I am doing pretty well for just shy of 30 and hang out with mostly people of my same age and income level ~$100k.

      I am friends with car people that I’ve met through various online car forums that I owned the requisite sheetmetal and people I’ve met through HPDEs and autocross, but I have only met one person through my day-to-day life that is an actual car-guy as well (owns a sweet caged ’94 spec miata), and everyone else I know drives appliances.

      People don’t bat an eye at blowing $400+ a year on data plans, but when I pay $500 for a set of track tires that lasts me 2 years worth of autocrosses and intermittent track days, people look at me like I’m crazy. I have a whole lot more fun with those tires than they do with a data plan.

      • 0 avatar
        JustinM

        And you’re in the top 3-4% of earners (if you live in the United States, that is).

        I’m in the bottom half of earners, with student loans, a mortgage, etc. etc. etc. A data plan is almost necessary for me to do my job, but track tires would be a ridiculous luxury. That doesn’t make me less of a car guy; it means I have my priorities straight.

        I suggest you examine your privilege a bit more closely.

  • avatar
    Dekinorman

    Do you think that this has anything to do with the growing percentage of the population living in cities, and better public transit and growing bicycle use? I con’t see internet usage replacing driving-they are much different activities with different purposes. I’ll have to read the study to see how they correlate the two, but it does not seem obvious to me.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      Some purpose, to socialize and try to hook up with the opposite sex. We did it by cruising, to see and be seen. Communication technology was a CB radio. No, it wasnt some hicktown, but a relatively wealthy big city suburb.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    I don’t see anything too surprising in this. New technologies often reshape human behavior, sometimes in fundamental ways that have dramatic impacts on traditional economies and lifestyle choices. I’m sure the introduction of the automobile brought the demise to other, more traditional kinds of activities and lifestyle choices when it was introduced.

    We live in technological environments, and as those environments change so too do the behaviors, choices, values, desires, wants, needs, and so on of its members. Anyone who believed the automobile would always remain the dominant force that it was in the twentieth century needs to think a little more critically about the impacts that technologies have in shaping and re-shaping human perception and action.

    (Great pic, by the way.)

    • 0 avatar
      DuVoe

      I agree 100 percent. When the railroad came West, it would have taken a massive toll on businesses that catered to provisioning the wagons that rolled before it. When the car came along, there was almost nothing that it didn’t change. Most transportation-related industries that chose not to re-tool and take part in automotive production were closed or absorbed. The rail industry met a decline during a large part of the twentieth century, the carriage business, horse breeders, etc. It took people, and economic activity out of traditional downtowns, and into the suburbs. Businesses that missed the boat and stayed put closed as downtowns in many cities turned seedy.

      Those that aren’t too enthusiastic about driving probably aren’t solving the problem by becoming homebound, they most likely have other motives about solving their transportation needs. Even if today they live with Mom and Dad, their eventual plans might include moving to a city.

      A technology that comes along and changes traditional notions of civic life has happened many times before, and it will happen many times again.

      A lot of this comes back to the fact that people feel that others are “missing out” for not having the same set of experiences to draw from when they look back at their youth years later. I’m sure older folks in the 1950′s complained that these new kids were simply driving their little bubbles, disconnected from everyone else, to those new suburban mega-malls. They wouldn’t enjoy the meeting and greeting that went on in pedestrian-oriented downtown city life, carousing and trying to impress women on the streetcars with their friends on the way to the pier, etc.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    This is very disturbing in the extreme! What happens when mommy and daddy kick these Millennial zombies out of the house and they have to work for a living and support themselves? Yup that means they will probably need a car, a license and insurance just to get to the job across town or in another town or city. Public transport is fine when it’s available and if you happen to live in a big city that correlates with your work schedule. Many jobs these days require that you own transportation of some sort. There silly iphones and ipads and the internet will not be able to get them out of that. There lack of labor skills means it will be very hard to open there own business or carry on dads company or invent something new that will earn them a good salary. How about going on a date? Most girls I know would much rather date the cool guy with the cool wheels than the internet nerd that sits on there ass all day playing video games and playing with there i devices. A girl sure don’t want a dead beat husband that doesn’t make money. Not a good situation. Of course the greed and global craze with everybody feeling the affects of our crumbling economy sure doesn’t help today’s youth at all and many are very depressed and lack ambition. Crude, commodities and outrageous insurance premiums as mentioned are more serious problems that have no end in sight.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      “Their”

      Not having a car doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of mobility, job, or money. My brother makes six figures as an independent contractor in the IT business and doesn’t own a car. He leased a new, loaded 350Z (MSRP $54k in Canada at the time) for awhile and got rid of it because he never drove it. I went for a few years without a car, despite being a car nut. Slogging through rush hour traffic really isn’t fun, and I’m not interested in spending easily $500/month for the privilege, when a $75 bus pass gets me by with far less hassle.

      I had a sport bike (more recently, an old Miata) for getting out into the country in the summer. That costs me a bit of money, too, but I consider it a luxury hobby that spends its time in a garage when I’m not having fun with it. Need to get out of town in the winter? Working for an airline has its advantages…

      I don’t find the lack of car to be a hindrance with the opposite sex. In fact, my bikes were more trouble than they were worth in that regard. Besides, when you live in the city, you can get the girl plastered at the bar and then stumble home to your nearby apartment…

      If I lived out in the country or had kids, my situation would undoubtedly be different, but for the moment at least, there are good reasons not to go that route.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      “Yup that means they will probably need a car, a license and insurance just to get to the job across town or in another town or city. Public transport is fine when it’s available and if you happen to live in a big city that correlates with your work schedule.”

      People still don’t get it.

      A few decades ago hundreds of towns and cities in America died. It’s called the rustbelt and nobody cared because it was out in flyover country.

      Cheap energy is gone and hundreds of towns and cities in America are going to die because of it. The death is never completely obvious in real time, but it’s there. Get your head out of the sand and think about your city as objectively as you can. If the kids aren’t getting cars and your city requires cars, the sooner you leave the better off you’ll be. Because your city is going to die.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbobjoe

      We are so close to self driving cars…far closer than most people think. And when that becomes mainstream, very few people will bother getting the license.

      It’ll be quite liberating actually.

      • 0 avatar
        vchengap

        “We are so close to self driving cars…far closer than most people think. And when that becomes mainstream, very few people will bother getting the license.”

        I’m afraid that you’re right. Most people I know can’t wait for their cars to drive them to their destination. And the technology to make this possible is getting closer every day.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    This is right on for me.

    I love cars- in theory. The whole RX8/Porsche down a twisty rural road thing.
    But that’s not what I use my cars for.
    I have a decent job, but also a young family I’m currently supporting on one paycheck.
    Any money I spend on a car beyond an entry level econo-car is taking money away from doing other things.
    So I buy the cheapest car that will (comfortably) suit my transportation needs, and try to drive as little as possible.
    (I buy new- but keep for long term.)

    I live where I live and own the cars I own because of my job, only. My general interests are better served online than in the areas around me. Music- no record stores anymore. Basketball- I have a diverse online community of fans to talk to/argue with – not like the local sports bar where I have to ask them to put on the game and pay $15 for a few beers. So I spend a lot of time on the internet running my own website and interacting with people of similar interest.

    Of course I go out on the occasional drive to the country-side or road trip- but having a car as a hobby is the wealthy man’s/few other interests man’s game. I would trade it all for a walk-able community and a car-share service/occasional rentals in a minute. If I ever see real success I’ll buy a sports-car and garage it for the weekends. Oh the things I could do with that ~15-20% of my income that goes towards my cars…

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      “I would trade it all for a walk-able community and a car-share service/occasional rentals in a minute.”

      That’s why we chose a small town with a short commute where we can carpool for 100% of the time. We drop off the kids at school and then I drop my wife off at work.

      Any money saved on transportation can be spent attending concerts, vacations, better food (i.e. not overly processed “food like product”), retirement, etc. All while we are safe from the crime stats our friends and family have come to accept as part of living in a big city where people kill each other for reasons unknown to me.

      At nearly $4 gas, a 15 mile commute each day and an honest 25 mpg, it amazes me that it costs me $3+ just drive back and forth to work such a short distance. We can afford it of course. I simply don’t know how friends and family drive 30-50+ miles each way per spouse and replace vehicles as often as they have to.

      Despite being an enthusiastic gearhead who does all of his own wrench turning – I’d really like to see a bike path between my home and work so I could safely pedal to work when the weather is nice. Would be good for me, good for my wife, good for traffic, and good for our budget. Or drive an electric golf cart on the same path/route.I find given the time that 10 mph travel speeds along a quiet route can be really enjoyable too. The stop and go and stop again traffic even in this small town is old and it would be much worse if we chose to live in a larger city.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    That photo is worth a million bucks!

    Yeah, I hope all you young snots stay at home in your mom’s basement and stay off the road and off my lawn so I can roam the roads free as a bird in my cars, enjoying the wind in my hair, cruising without a care in the world!

    Lovin’ it more and more, as I have sufficient funds to enjoy life a little…

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    For the cost of owning the average car where I live, I can buy a new iPad, iPhone and Macbook Pro every time Apple comes out with a new one.

    And that’s before I even start driving the thing.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    It’s the weirdest thing to me…both my niece and my nephew have reached driver’s license age and are totally indifferent towards driving. It doesn’t interest them one bit. Me, I couldn’t wait when I was their age…

    • 0 avatar
      Habibi

      Please ask them why and post their response here. It would be interesting to get real input vs. our conjecture on “why they aren’t like us”

      • 0 avatar
        Roberto Esponja

        I have, and what they’ve basically told me is that it doesn’t draw their interest…the nephew gets rides from his mom, the niece, who’s now in college, gets rides from friends, and when she’s at home, from her mom…I guess they don’t see it as a symbol of freedom or independence, as my generation did. The nephew looks at cars like he would washing machines, and my niece likes cars, but isn’t interested in driving them. Go figure…

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        These people should probably still get their drivers’ licenses. In 9 years they will be “experienced” drivers in the insurance companies’ eyes even if they have never driven a car after the driver’s test.

    • 0 avatar
      Campisi

      Why should it? Learning to walk, going to school, getting a bicycle, etc. did nothing to slacken the chain of overzealous parenting (that most kids aren’t even cognizant of anymore), so why would an expensive car change that?

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      That describes my nephew too. Wasn’t until he turned 21 that his Mom ‘n Dad told him to get a job (and thus a license and a car so he could get to work). He is content to live at home and they are content to have him there too. He is much more interested in his camera, internet, computer, music, TV. Sort of like a kid that never grew up.

      I was crawling the walls to get my license, graduate and get the heck out of my parents’ house and we had/have a pretty good relationship. As an adult I’d do just about anything legal to avoid moving my family into their home if we had an employment problem.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    Not having a car works if you have hobbies/interests that don’t take you out of the house at all (WoW, I’m looking at you), or require little or no equipment. Walking to a nearby park with a frisbee with some friends, or hopping on the bus with a bag of raquetball gear, for example. Riding a bike to my golf course every weekend with the bag on my back doesn’t sound like fun, though. At the upper limit, there’s really no substitute for a car/truck for towing my sailboat to the harbour, or carrying the huge amount of gear and liquid refreshements needed to rig it every time I want to go sailing. It all depends on what people want to do, I guess.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      And on their bank accounts! From the sounds of it, you’re enjoying things that the majority of us middle-class slobs can’t dream of. Good for you.

      • 0 avatar
        MidLifeCelica

        I suppose my post might come across as a bit snobish, I suppose. However, my lifestyle is what it is because my truly middle-class income goes a LONG way in what is considered the ‘poor’ part of Canada. Sure, in my home town of Calgary, buying a ‘nice’ house costs at least $500K, joining a golf course might easily involve $20K of up-front money, a two-year waiting list, and $4-$6K in annual dues/green fees; and as for a sailboat in the water, forget about it unless you are in the millionare’s club. Here in northern Nova Scotia, I bought a 2600 sq. ft. 4-bedroom home on a nice lot for 120K. My ENTIRE golf season costs me $690 (tax included), and the Pictou Yacht Club full membership is a whopping $90 and includes a nice beach area they let me put my (used) 18′ catamaran partially rigged all season. I bid under $1800 for a 18′ pool with complete installation on the Kijiji auction site and won the stupid thing. I love this place!

        Our provincial lottery ran an ad campaign based on the slogan “Where a million dollars goes as far as it should”, comparing what $1 Million buys in Toronto (a tiny apartment perched over the noisy 401 highway) to here (car + boat + cottage), and it was funny because it’s true. Move to Nova Scotia and live like a king on just pennies per day!

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Your Scotia is my Georgia!

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Shhhh! Don’t let the secret out Steven!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I just had my 67 Camaro in for an alignment after replacing all the suspension bushings and subframe/body mounts. It was fun to see the techs at the shop actually enjoying working on a car that wasn’t a minivan or SUV, and where you can easily reach all the operating parts.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    things just change – My first car was a new ’85 RX-7 GSL, which was my dad’s end of the “you get a full scholarship to college, I’ll buy you your first car” – deal.

    Through high school and college – my absolute favorite driving time was coming home in the summer and “just cruising” on Saturdays. Once I finished whatever running around I had to do, the afternoon until about sundown when I’d go home and get ready to go out with the fellas (my college girlfriend lived states away). Just me (passengers ruined it – even the prettiest ones), windows down, removable sunroof in the hatch, smells and sounds of summer (Van Halen, Whitesnake, Y&T, Dio on cassette). I really didn’t have a care in the world and the good thing was that I knew it.

    Now I have really cool cars that I love but don’t get to drive enough. And when I do, I’m never really relaxed enough to enjoy it the way I did when I didn’t have anything better to do or anyplace better to go.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Well while most of you have pointed at the culprits of why teens are not interested in driving, I think the main factor is societal change. A lot more boys are growing up without fathers or father figures. Who normally teaches a boy about cars? Not the mother that’s for sure. Also boys are taught that being feminine is the new thing. The kids are also taught in government schools that being “an individual” is kind of dirty and wrong and that being part of the group and including everyone in the group is the thing to do.
    Driving for pleasure is a very individual thing…at least for me. When I want to get away from it all, I get in my old 911 and take it out for two or three hours on some nice back roads. Nowdays, that’s considered very unfriendly to the environment…etc…etc.. We’re all encouraged to car pool, use mass transit…
    Let’s be honest. A car is not all that expensive. I bought my first car back in 1993. I was 17 years old and I was a fresh immigrant from the ex-Communist gulag. I barely spoke English but I told my dad I want a driver license ASAP. I came to USA in January and in March I got my DL. Of course I didn’t have any money and my dad who had moved to USA back in 1982 told me that if I want to buy something I have to work for it. That summer of 1993 I helped the next door neighboor rebuild her driveway and I made $500. That’s all I needed. My first car was a 1985 Buick Skyhawk. It was a jalopy, but it was MINE and it did the trick. I got the minimum state required insurance which I had to do in my name (dad and step-mom did not want their rates to go up).
    Growing up of an ex-communist country you have a different perspective in life. Being part of the “commune” and not being an individual is taught since you’re very young and you are expected to folow that mentality. USA gave me, among many other opportunities, the oportunity to be an individual. I was not going to waste my time playing video games.
    All I am saying is that we still have $500 jalopies out there and the grocery stores are still in need for bag boys.

  • avatar

    Wow; look at that photo, the young Jack Baruth was a thing of beauty!

  • avatar
    JustinM

    Correlation doesn’t imply causation. The rise of the Internet and the decline in car ownership are correlated, but one did not necessarily cause the other.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Whether this is “disturbing” or not mostly has to do with whether you have a financial connection to the auto industry.

    As countries become more urbanized (which has certainly happened to the US in the past 40 years) driving becomes less and less fun and more and more a pain in the ass. For most humans, pains in the ass are to be avoided . . . and so is driving.

    In increasing numbers of cities (LA, DC and more) population densities are in an in-between stage where densities are too high to make driving really effective, but too low to make traditional mass-transit (especially very costly “heavy rail” (subways) cost effective.

    So, while these costs go up, the cost of communications technology is going down. It should be no surprise that people start interacting more in cyberspace than in “meat space.”

    The present situation will evolve in one of two directions. Direction A — the direction favored by urban planners and the like — is increasing density, so more and more of us will live in the equivalent of Manhattan. This reduces the time and financial cost of moving in physical space to go to work and interact with others. My personal prediction is that this won’t happen. That is going back to the past, and people left that kind of density in the early 20th century for a reason: given the choice to leave offered by the car, they left.

    Direction B is that more and more people stop “going to work” by moving themselves physically. Instead, they go to work by taking advantage of the increasingly cheaper and more powerful communications technologies. Sure, some people will be doing physical work, making things in factories, building houses, etc., but factories are already located in rural or small-town areas so that their workers can avoid, or at least minimize, these costs.

    The “bedroom suburbs” built from 1950 on are kind of sterile places to live, but my guess is that people may re-orient themselves to human-scale small towns where they can interact socially in physical space but do a lot of their work by interacting in cyberspace. If you’ve ever spent much time in one, small towns are wonderful places to live. Their chief drawback is that they have been “confining” in the physical sense, especially in terms of work and culture. Communications technology removes that confinement.

    And maybe then people will drive cars for fun. One of the points I always use to astound my younger bicycle fanatic friends who complain about cars on, say, the Rock Creek Parkway is to point out to them that the whole reason that parkway (and scores of other, similarly-named roads in the U.S.) was built was so people could drive along and enjoy the scenery. There used to be something called the “Sunday drive” which is what families did after church in the morning and a big family dinner in the middle of the day.

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      I have to agree with you on direction B. While I’d really like to live somewhere where I could walk to get a cup of coffee, a stack of pancakes, or a beer, I really don’t want to live in a high rise.

      Americans really don’t like each other very much, and high rates of violence are probably inevitable in high density gatherings of people. The reasons NYC is not as violent as Mogadishu is that it lacks native-born Americans and it has a level of policing likely to become unaffordable if the Wall Street bubble stays busted.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      “The “bedroom suburbs” built from 1950 on are kind of sterile places to live, but my guess is that people may re-orient themselves to human-scale small towns where they can interact socially in physical space but do a lot of their work by interacting in cyberspace.”

      Yes, I see that Dollar General and similar stores are starting to put small stores near the neighborhoods and even on in the rural parts of the county and these store get alot of business. People are going there for whatever they need rather than all the way into town to Wal-Mart b/c driving the family hauler 20 miles ’round trip at 18 mpg has a tangible cost. It’s the dime stores of the 21 century and I wonder how long before we start getting little clutsters of businesses around these stores creating stores you can walk to even in the semi-rural areas where I live. I’m already noticing a number of low income people judging by their wardrobe walking here and there b/c they need to. Some are carrying shopping bags so obviously they’d drive if they could.

  • avatar
    M.S. Smith

    First problem is cost. The total on-the-road monthly cost of my 2006 Ford Focus is about $400, and that’s only for 10,000 miles per month. You’ll be hard pressed to get a lower cost than that unless you buy a beater Civic – but then you’re driving a beater Civic. It’s expensive. Well off young people who don’t have cars use this money to go on trips or enjoy concerts every weekend. Young people who aren’t well off can use this money to pay their student loans and buy some food.

    Second problem is the industry. The car industry kind of despises young people. Old people run it, and they’ve concluded that hose damn kids spend all their time reading Facebook and poking on smartphones. So naturally, they stuff cars full of technology. Which makes them more expensive. Which makes them less affordable for young people. It’s a self-inflicted Catch-22 caused by an incorrect assumption.

    And as a side note to that: The technology in cars sucks. Even MyFordTouch is a mess, and that’s the most advanced system available in an affordable car. The young people who are interested in technology are using Android phones, iPads, and modern computers – these are all very nice devices that are faster than they really need to be and, more often than not, work. The executives who think sticking a slow, confusing, relatively low resolution LCD display in a car is attractive to young people have no idea what they’re talking about.

    Third problem is the press. Go look at Motor Trend or Car and Driver or any automotive magazine (and its website). They are all attempts to live the life of rich old people vicariously through cars. Fancy, exotic locations in fancy, exotic cars. All very beautiful and utterly predictable. It holds no interest to those damn kids, who don’t see it likely that they’ll ever be able to experience anything on those glossy pages.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I totally agree about the veteran car mags. I find zero interest in them.

      “The executives who think sticking a slow, confusing, relatively low resolution LCD display in a car is attractive to young people have no idea what they’re talking about.”

      Is this any different from the mono AM/FM analog dial radios Detroit was still putting in their cars even in the 1980s when a quick trip to KMart would supply a person with a Kraco AM/FM stereo cassette with digital tuner and auto-reverse cassette deck for another $100? Meanwhile the factory stereos were hugely over priced and still weren’t that good. My friend who had a Datsun 240SX (?) in the 80s with a good decent stereo and a separate equalizer, tape deck, etc. My father’s Celica had a nice basic cassette stereo. My used Mustang of the same vintage was loaded but came with a very basic AM/FM radio. Maybe it was stereo. I can’t remember. It also came with a dash that wasn’t very easy to add an aftermarket stereo to.

      Factory technology is crap on cars where the factory is trying to cut corners for profit. Seems idiotic when nice tech can be had for so cheap. We replaced our wornout factory stereo (lasted over 200K miles) with a super CD/MP3/sat ready/iPod/USB for about $170. Not that much more than a $100 Kraco from the 80s.

      I know, I know – save $15 on a million cars and somebody gets a bonus… LOL! Why let your brand get sullied by cheaping out though?

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    I’ll be 35 this year. Depending on who you talk to, I’m at the end of Gen X or the beginning of Gen Y. I’ve always loved cars, and got my license at the age of 16, mainly to help my mom pick up siblings from school and activities.

    I’m college educated, paid for it all myself, but am currently jobless. Some days I don’t drive at all! Believe me, I WANT TO! One of my Bucket List items was to drive Route 66 before I turned 30, and I did it! I even did it again (only through California) two years later just for the heck of it! I LOVE driving HWY 1 and the Ortega HWY 74. GAS PRICES HAVE LOCKED ME OUT! If I want to drive the Ortega, it will take me an hour just to get there, and the whole trip will likely burn up a quarter tank of fuel when I have to make it last at least 2 weeks now.

    I still want to see the USA by car, but it’s really no longer practical. I’ve always wanted to drive across the Macinac Bridge…I actually just did yesterday. Using Google Street View.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      SuperACG – we are employed and doing fine but here lately feel it is a good weekend when we don’t fire up a car for two days straight. We’re around the house tinkering with things, cleaning, playing with the kids, etc. Good luck on the job hunt. I wish you success.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    If somebody took away my car and gave me the latest gaming system/computer, and told me that was all I could have from here on out, I think I’d gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon. I hate video games, frequent ~5 websites, and only randomly use anti-”social” media.

    I have no delusions that I have the skills to drive fast around a track, nor do I care to learn, and have a passing knowledge of how things work; I can probably tinker around to repair a car and am not afraid to get a little muck on hands when trying to deal with something car related. Talking about cars is an enjoyable pass time, and learning what I can about them is something I try to do.

    Computers, on the other hand, are tools of the devil. They’re boring and otherwise not of any interest to me.

    Oh yeah, I grew up in the ‘burbs and plan to stay there.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    Anyone starting to drive within the last 10-15 years has had to deal with heavy traffic, more restrictive teen driving laws, and more police enforcement than before. Driving your friends around is illegal. Driving home at 1am is illegal. Cruising is illegal. If you’re into cars, especially if you like to work on them (mods, not just maintenance) then you’re faced with a culture that has demonized you since the year 2000 and has made certain that the police do everything they can to make your experience on the road a bad one.

    If you’re old and ride a Harley, you can have a 95dB exhaust system and the cops love you. Do anything to your Integra and they’re all over you. If you’re a 20-year old street racer you’re the scum of the earth. If you were a 20-year old racer 40 years ago, the press deems you worthy of an executive position among the Big 3. Lifted truck with bumpers aimed at your neck, no problem. Lowered, you must be up to something. “Take it to the track!” “Close down this track because it’s too close to our houses!”

    The effect has permeated downwards so that young people now aspire to own automatic 3-series sedans, or date someone who does.

  • avatar
    Slab

    This reminds me of the debates that raged on an infrastructure blog I used to read. One side would talk about the advantages of living in a tiny city apartment and using public transportation. The other side would rather live in the burbs and commute. It seemed to me that the biggest divide was whether they had kids.

  • avatar
    mzr

    With the display of car people around here, I’d stay home too.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Auto manufacturers have made the same mistake as motorcycle manufacturers. They’ve thoughtless increased price with superfluous nonsense and clever pricing models to protect themselves and their aging union employees from the developing world. As a result, they have alienated an entire generation of younger consumers.

    About 25 years ago, the average age of a motorcyclist was mid-20s. Now the average age of a motorcyclist is over 40 years old. All of the gotta have bikes are hugely inefficient to own and operate, and the MSRP is similar to that of a small car. If you’re in to Harley’s, the MSRP is similar to a midsize car.

    Unintelligent, left-brained, baby-booming lilliputians chasing short-term trends with their penny wise pound foolish business mantras and stepping over dimes to earn nickels. Any other cliches I’ve missed?

    VW create the MQB. Will they use it to slash costs and engage young drivers in developed markets? Nope. They will bundle lower platform costs with more superfluous optioning to raise their profit margins. They’ve completely forgotten why capitalism was invented b/c they’ve been operating in an super-powered oligopoly who are basically above all national competition regulations. Naturally, they have gone completely insane.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    To be fair- curising around aimlessly was a dumb thing to do in hind sight. We used to drive around and throw things at other kids we come across. How stupid was that? I’m glad today’s kids just hole up in their rooms and make fun of each other with Twitter.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      I don’t remember anything coming out of my “cruising” days. It was only something to do when you had nothing else. Never did find that car load of girls that wanted to meet us, which seemed to be the agenda on our drives.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    It’s been a year of blood sweat and tears, including rebuilding the engine, powerglide, rear end, and all new brake parts, and all new rubber in the suspension.

    Having launched a couple weeks ago, I’m still a bit surprised it all works, and amazingly nothing leaks. Being retired and working at a snails pace definitely helps.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I think that’s good news! Keep those young punks off the road!

    Personally, society would have been smart to keep me off the road when I was 16. But back then, I drove an RX-7 A LOT as super unleaded was 89 cents/gal and dear old dad kept handing me $20 bills.

  • avatar
    Austin Greene

    Hey Mom! Have you seen my Ham radio?

  • avatar
    Campisi

    Internet is cheaper than driving, and a childhood of tyranny-by-parental-oversight has taught the young people that driving does not provide freedom. We can’t find jobs, the jobs we do find don’t pay a living wage, and many of us went to college because the aged said we essentially had to only for that same age bracket to ridicule us when our massive debt load didn’t give us the leg up we were told it would. Cops and gas prices essentially bar us from any driving apart from the speed-limit traffic-snarled self-shuttling to our crap jobs anyway, so why bother?

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    When I was old enough to drive, what now seems like ages ago, the LIABILITY insurance for a young male teen was 1200 a year and gas was somehere around a buck to buck twenty. I don’t think that any kid can even get on their parents’ insurance these days for less that 1200 for a six month policy, there are curfews for young drivers and endless restrictions until they hit 18 and suddenly aren’t supposed to be idiots anymore. Gas has skyrocketed to 4 bucks a gallon. Exactly what incentive do teens have to drive? I’d argue what incentive does ANYONE have to drive these days.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States