I received my driver’s license as soon as I possibly could. I could not wait to have a degree of independence that I so desperately wanted as a 17-year-old high school student.
It took me only two attempts to pass my road test, and then I was out on the road with my silver 2002 Hyundai Sonata.
Although I do not have my car with me at school, I do rely on it quite a bit when I’m home. I strongly prefer it to public transportation. I was surprised to read an article in the New York Post that informed me that I’m now in the minority.
A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study conducted in 1983 showed that nearly half of 16-year-olds had a license. That number plummeted in 2014, as only a quarter did, according to the New York Post article.
The article outlines a few reasons why many people would consider not getting a license anymore, such as increased use of public transportation and new innovations like Uber.
In addition, “the advent of ‘graduated licenses’ meant that in some states, 16- and 17-year-olds are no longer allowed to ferry a group of friends or drive at night,” according to the article.
Because of these graduated licenses, which build skill over time with young drivers in low-risk environments, many millennials are deciding not to bother anymore.
However, the article does address one more reason that is interesting to say the least.
“They’ve already been driven enough for a lifetime,” the article said.
What does this mean? Well, many millennials feel that cars represent being dependent or identify it with childhood. I disagree. I’ve always felt more independent in my car than on a bus or train.
So why were children kept in cars so often during their childhood?
The article said: “A big factor is fear. After the kidnappings of Etan Patz in 1979 and Adam Walsh in 1981, ‘stranger danger’ catapulted to the forefront of our culture. The milk-carton kids didn’t help.”
I’m sure I’m not the only one who remembers all the videos telling children not to talk to strangers. I remember a specific video, which I watched with my entire class in elementary school, of a young girl who was tricked into getting into a van by an older man.
I give my mother a lot of credit. She didn’t coddle me much, well just the usual amount of motherly love. Of course, I was driven around a decent amount, but I took the bus or walked to school growing up. She drove me somewhere only if it were raining or an event or location was too far.
I know when I have children of my own, I’m not going to hover over them like a hawk. Of course, I say that now, but I’m sure I’ll have my fair share of moments like any parent does.
Millennials are rebelling against a “car-centric culture,” according to the article. As soon as they are old enough to go places on their own, they don’t want a car to take them there anymore — no matter who is driving. Maybe a reason I have my own car now is because my mother wasn’t as overprotective as some parents. In that case, thank you, Mom.
Parents do need to be careful. Walking the fine line between love and coddling is difficult — not that I can imagine right now, but I’ll get there.
“The future lies not with enforced schlepping,” the article said. “It lies in freedom.”
I agree completely. Children need freedom to run around, to get in trouble and to learn lessons. Pushing them into the car throughout their childhood will only make them rebel when they get older. It may be worse than simply deciding not to get a driver’s license.
Email Joseph Bochichio at firstname.lastname@example.org