I'm the family chauffeur, and I'm not alone...
I'm a sucker for stories like this since I have 2 young drivers in the house. Yes, I've been the family chauffeur, though now that he has a license, that duty has devolved to Number One Son. He's tickled - for the moment - so we'll see how long that lasts.
But the bit that caught my attention was the reduced numbers of 16-year-olds with driver's licenses. They've fallen from half to about a third. The article speculates about the reasons for this, including the high cost of insurance, but it offers no definitive answers. Personally, I was extremely reluctant to toss the car keys to a kid whose main interests consist of girls, football, girls, Gran Turismo, and girls. Did I mention that he has an intense interest in girls?
Driving Miss Chloe
YOU know her — that nice teenager across the street? Chloe. There she is, sitting in one of the two captain’s seats in the midsection of her mom’s Toyota Sienna, bopping along to the music on her iPod. Now and then she pulls out one of the ear buds so that she can tell her mom some forgotten bit of news or gossip; Chloe’s mom is up to speed on the dramas that are always unfolding in her daughter’s circle of friends, just as she can tell you the date of her next French test, the topic of her coming history paper and the location and scope of her next community service project. They have a great night planned out: they’re going to pick up Chloe’s best friend and then drive back home for a night of DVDs and popcorn in the family room. Her mom will putter around close by, and her dad will probably sit down and watch one of the movies with the girls.
When I was in high school in the 1970s, we had a name for teenagers like Chloe: losers. If an otherwise normal girl thought that the best way to spend a Saturday night was home with her parents — not just co-existing with them, but actually hanging out with them — we would have been looking for a bucket of pig’s blood.
That a profound change has taken place in the relationship between American teenagers and their parents is made clear by statistics from the Federal Highway Administration showing a steady decline in the number of licensed teenage drivers. In the last decade, the proportion of 16-year-olds nationwide who hold driver’s licenses has dropped from nearly half to less than one-third.
The reasons have a great deal to do with the cost of car insurance and driver’s education programs. But among middle- and upper-middle-class young adults, the cohort that created the teenage car culture, the propulsive energy that once served to blast an adolescent away from his or her parents has begun to drain away. Teenagers report that they don’t need to drive: their parents are willing to take them where they want to go, and they are content to ride shotgun with Mom, texting and yakking all the way to the mall.
Labels: drivers license