A study by the researchers at the University of Michigan has revealed that more young adults would prefer browsing the Internet than drive around in a vehicle. The university's Ann Arbor-based Transportation Research Institute found that the higher number of Web users in the U.S. is associated with the lower licensure rates among the young generation. This trend is noticeable in other nations also. The researchers found that Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Norway had the same decline in the number of young drivers and a rise in the number of older drivers. According to the head of the institute's human factors group, Michael Sivak, the countries with greater number of Internet users were associated with lower rates of licensure among young people.
This is consistent with the theory that access to "virtual contact through electronic means" lowers the need for "actual contact" among young individuals. In 1983, a third of the total number of licensed drivers in the U.S. were under 30 years old, compared to only around 22% today, the study revealed. The research also found that around 94% of Americans in their 20s in 1983 had a driver's license, compared with around 84% in 2008.
Senior Analyst Rebecca Lindland at Detroit-based research firm IHS Automotive commented that younger individuals are less enthusiastic about getting their drivers' licenses. She attributes this trend to a societal change with how young people mingle with their friends. She related that in every other generation, children had to leave the house to meet their friends. Now, one can do all these through the Internet and a vehicle is not required any longer, she added. However, this does not necessarily mean that young adults will not see a need for vehicles in the future, she further explained.