Learning how to drive used to be a rite of passage for American teenagers, but fewer of them are opting to get their driver's licenses.
Fewer teens are on the road on Monroe County, according to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The number of teenagers aged 16 to 18 who had their driver's licenses fell 16 percent between 2008 and 2011. The number of 16-year-olds with their licenses fell 48 percent, due in part to graduated licenses. The number of teens aged 17 and 18 with licenses each fell 14 percent. That means over just a few years, the number of teens on the road dropped by about 2,000.
The population of people aged 15 to 19 years old fell 8 percent during this time period, indicating there are other factors at work.
The DMV couldn't provide local data on teen licenses going back further than 2008. But national trends support a dramatic long term decline in teen driving. The Centers for Disease Control reports
73 percent of high school seniors had their licenses in 2012, down from 85 percent in 1996. Another study reports
69 percent of 17-year-olds had their licenses in 1983, while only 46 percent did in 2010.
"I am interested in getting my license, but I procrastinated and didn't really go get the test," said Tariq Hudson, 16, of Greece.
"It seems like there are a lot of things you have to take care of like gas, insurance and also keeping your eye on the road, being safe on the road," said Grayson Nenneau, 17. "I don't feel like I'm responsible enough to handle it yet."
A University of Michigan survey
showed teens are too busy to get their licenses. Cost is another reason teens are not driving. Other teens said it's easy to get rides from family and friends.
Jarrad Ackerman, 21, of Greece, is content not having a license. He walks a lot and takes the bus.
"For monetary reasons, gas, insurance, the car payments, renewal of license and also for environmental concerns," said Ackerman.
For now, Grayson's mom is happy to drive him places.
"I'm happy that he's aware of his limitations," said Dana Nenneau. "As far as I'm concerned the cost of gas and increase in insurance, I'm happy to help him get around until he feels more comfortable behind the wheel."