Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car: Part 2

I didn’t get back to all the comments on my previous “Baby, You Can’t Drive My Car” post, but there were some good ones. Between those and some emails I got, there was some interesting statistical/follow-up issues raised that I felt deserved their own post.

First, the general “not getting driver’s licenses” trend among young people seems to actually be reflective of some larger delayed adulthood trends among “iGen”, or those born in 1995-2005. This Wall Street Journal article by a researcher studying the newest up and coming generation says the following ” As I found in analyzing seven large national surveys of teens, today’s adolescents are less likely to drive, drink, work, date, go out and have sex than were teens just 10 years ago. Today’s 18-year-olds look like 15-year-olds used to.” This may not be a bad thing. Per the article, this group is less likely to get in car accidents than teens in previous years, which is obviously a good thing. On the other hand, on my previous post commenter Michael pondered if delaying getting your driver’s license is good for your long term driving skills. Will the group that failed to get a license at 16 be getting in more accidents at 30 as a result? TBD.

Second point, related to the first, is the success of teen driver’s license initiatives. The initial results on these look good, but most of those numbers are obtained using raw numbers. In other words, we don’t know if those licensing laws improved the driving of 16 and 17 year olds, or if the reductions in crashes were due to fewer of them being able to drive at all. Not a bad outcome either way, but possibly a misleading one if the numbers pick back up at a later date. While I can definitely see some types of impulsiveness associated with teen drivers ebbing with age, there are certain errors inexperienced drivers might make regardless. Again, TBD.

Third point I started to wonder about….are we seeing a corresponding uptick in non-driver’s license IDs? If not, how are people without licenses identifying themselves? I can see people not wanting the hassle of getting a driver’s license, but it seems awfully hard to function without an ID. Even buying alcohol would be a challenge, at least in my area.

Fourth, related to #3, is the low driving rate in some states being driven by a population that can’t get a license? I mentioned in the first post that states with higher populations of those under 18 would likely have lower rates, but someone also noted that it’s not clear where the population numbers came from. Since some population counts include all residents regardless of citizenship, and since states vary wildly in allowing those without documentation of citizenship to get licenses, it’s possible that accounts for some of the differences.