Turning 16 used to be one of the most important stepping stones in a teen’s life. It meant the rite of passage to get behind the wheel of a car. Well, times are changing as more teens are holding off on getting their driver’s licenses for a variety of reasons.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), there has been a 3 percent drop in 16- to 18-year-olds getting their driver’s licenses here in Arizona.
There are a few explanations available for why fewer teens feel the need to get their driver’s license. High gas prices and the costs of maintaining a car seem to be at the forefront, according to Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona.
“As a leader in driver safety, we encourage teens to educate themselves before they do get that license,” Gorman said.
AAA Arizona traffic safety experts also suggest that some parents would rather drive their kids than hand them the keys to the vehicle. Cell phone usage and the dangers of texting may be one reason parents are hesitant to trust their teens behind the wheel of a car. However, increases of cell phones among teens, as well as social media, also alleviate the need for teens to drive to malls or other meeting spots to be with friends.
The good news in all of this is that with fewer teen drivers comes fewer teen driver deaths.
According to ADOT, 81 teens were killed in car accidents in 2008. In 2012, the number was reduced to 56.
So whether your teen-aged son or daughter cannot wait to turn 16 or plans to wait as long as possible before obtaining his or her license, check out www.teendriving.aaa.com for helpful tips on how to prepare your teen for the road.
• Jeremy Bush is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.