NYT: Non-Driving Teens Are Slackers

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
nyt non driving teens are slackers

In an op ed entitled "Driving Miss Chloe," New York Times scribe Caitlin Flanagan argues that the drop in teenage drivers reflects over-protective parents. Seemingly oblivious to journalistic scandals involving fictional composites, Flanagan invents a teenage girl named Chloe and castigates her for riding with Mom in a Toyota Sienna– instead of learning how to drive. "When I was in high school in the 1970s, we had a name for teenagers like Chloe: losers… In my day, we did whatever was necessary to get out on a Saturday night: we climbed out of windows; we jumped on the back of motorcycles; God help us, we hitchhiked. We needed, on the most basic and physical level, to be out in the dangerous night, with one another, away from our parents and the safety of home. It was no way to live, and some of us didn’t. But it was a drive so elemental and essential that there seemed no way to deny it." In a nod to reality, Flanagan mentions the enormous cost of insuring a teen driver– and then dismisses it in her relentless assault on today's teens' lack of gumption. "Learn to drive? Why would they want to do that?" she concludes. Offer coherent analysis of teen driving trends? Why would Flanagan do that?

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4 of 21 comments
  • Von Von on Mar 17, 2008

    RF: I use google everytime I come to TTAC because I don't bookmark TTAC (or anything not work related) on my work computer. While I certainly don't believe everyone is as paranoid as I am, it could account for some percentage of the traffic from search engines. Especially since most of the comments are posted during working hours, so I gather that a good portion of the folks that visit TTAC do so from work. But the reason for my comment was that I thought TTAC was a site for piston heads. By giving craptastic articles like the one in NYT, I think TTAC is giving credit where none is deserved, and thus, straying from the focus of this site.

  • on Mar 17, 2008

    I didn't get a license until I was 21, but I was no slacker. I, too, came from a poor family and couldn't afford a car. My mom could barely afford the dirt cheap cars she had while I was growing up. I worked my way through college and actually had to sell the car that I had to raise the money to help pay one quarter's tuition during my Junior year. Having said that, I do agree that children are overprotected and overindulged. You gotta' growup sometime, the younger the better.

  • Scott Baysinger Scott Baysinger on Mar 17, 2008

    I have read Ms. Flanagan's articles in The Atlantic, which makes me an East Coast liberal [except that I'm a libertarian based in Los Angeles]. One of her themes is the establishment of the Nanny State with the concurrent loss of ambition and drive in the young. Why learn to do anything for yourself when Mom 'n' Dad, the Police, and the Gov't will "protect you"? Not so different from all you self-righteous folks, eh? Stephan Wilkinson is dead-on, as usual.

  • GS650G GS650G on Mar 17, 2008

    I want them driving so their parents can pay ridiculous insurance premiums. This fills the bucket for the rest of us and keeps our rates down,.