Automo-bills: why fewer teens are hitting the road


Emma Teson, artist, Sarah Heet, visual managing editor

Abby Christensen, news writer

When she turned 16, the first thing that came to mind for Elizah Becker was taking the driving exam to receive her license, empowering her to go wherever she pleased without relying on pestering parents to be her chauffeurs. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, driving is not as popular with every teen as it is with Becker. The percentage of teens driving is decreasing, dropping nearly 12 percent from 2006-2012.
The Wall Street Journal said one possible reason for this decline is teens cannot afford to drive anymore due to the increasing rate of teen unemployment.
“Insurance is expensive, and there’s a lot better things that could be done with all that money,” Austin Steimel, senior, said. “It’s expensive and almost inconvenient at times.”
Steimel also said driving is not always necessary, because most places he wants to go are in walking distance, or he can get a ride from a friend. He also likes not having to deal with the responsibilities of owning and maintaining a car.
“It’s alleviating, in some regards, because I know it can be really stressful when your car is acting up,” Steimel said.
However, Steimel does wish he could drive from time to time, especially when wanting to go out to lunch. He said he faces uncertainty about how to get around at college, especially if he chooses to go to one that is far away.
Elizah Becker, sophomore, agrees driving can be expensive. From gas bills to flat tires, Becker said driving costs are high, but she likes the independence that comes with it.
“I have more control of my life, and where I go and when I do things. I don’t have to wait for my parents to drive me,” Becker said. “[Driving] allows me to have my own schedule which is independent from my parents’.”
In addition to more independence, Becker said benefits of driving include being able to stay out later. She also said driving makes her feel more grown up, because her parents trust her more now and do not question her whereabouts and who she’s with as much as before she began driving.
Although Becker and Steimel agree driving is costly, Becker thinks teens should drive to learn responsibility and gain a new level of independence only experienced when getting behind the wheel.
“Kids need independence, and [driving] just helps,” Becker said.