Today’s teens are accustomed to their desires being met on demand. Who needs a driver’s license when life is available at your fingertips?
If you’re like most, you remember the anticipation of finally acquiring your driver's license. The liberation and the feeling of freedom driving brought was like no other. In recent years, this anticipation seems to have fallen off as the number of teens actively pursuing their driver’s license has reached an all-time low of just over 70 percent. Considering 85 percent of high school seniors had their driver's license in 1996, that’s quite a decline. But what is it exactly that’s reducing teens’ interest in getting on the road—and what are they doing instead?
Everything is on demand
Today, instant gratification is a way of life. The introduction of the internet and mobile technology has created a generation of individuals who expect quick answers and services. This is especially true with the creation of IoT. In fact, by 2021 the average American is expected to own 13 internet-connected devices. When you’re accustomed to the convenience of technology, and entertainment, food, and other needs have become accessible at the touch of a button, pursuing a driver’s license might seem tedious and unnecessary.
Why drive when you can just ride?
Despite rideshare company policies forbidding unaccompanied customers under 18, at present, 84 percent of transactions labeled as ‘taxi services’ by teen-targeted debit card Current go to apps like Uber and Lyft. Why would a teen take the time to get a license when they can hail a ride using the phone, regardless of restrictions? It takes an average of 67 hours to get a driver’s license. Many teens view the process and time commitment as pointless when, with a few clicks, they can get anywhere they need to go.
Connectivity is easier than ever
Not only has society become more on-demand, but it has also become more connected. Teens today are constantly connected through the use of smartphones, social media, and other applications, spending an average of nine hours a day online. And get this: more than 94 percent of teens say the time they spend with friends via social media replaces the need to see them face-to-face as often. With peer connection in your pocket, many teens also see no point in getting behind the wheel to spend time with others in person.
Teenagers are forced to be frugal
One notable distinction about today’s teenagers—most members of Gen Z born between 1995 and 2012—is that their formative years came either during or immediately following the Great Recession. While many of their Millennial counterparts grew up in somewhat healthier economic times, Gen Z’ers watched their families struggle through the economic downturn. Not only are these teens more frugal as a result, but our current socioeconomic environment hasn’t really let their families off the mat.
For example, with manufacturers like GM and Ford building more expensive cars and trucks and scrapping basic models, vehicle ownership is becoming increasingly more expensive costing nearly $8,500 annually. The reality is that, after purchasing a car for their first teenager, many families may no longer be able to afford more vehicles as the rest of their children age—and most teens can’t afford to make a purchase themselves.
In short, connectivity and cost are the key factors contributing to teens’ reluctance to pursue a driver’s license. With a whole generation of potential drivers uninterested in getting behind the wheel, how will the auto industry respond?
To learn more about current automotive trends, check out our blog on how ridesharing services are impacting auto sales.