Auto insurance

One reason more teen drivers are hitting the road this year

Tuesday, February 9, 2016by  Sharlyn Petit

In the last 10 years or so, fewer teens are getting their licenses. Be it costly driver’s-ed fees, high fuel costs, or the preference for social networking over in-person hangouts, it's common for teens to postpone car ownership.

According to a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), economic recovery could spur an increase in young drivers on the road in the coming years.

HLDI has been sharing data showing a strong connection between the decline in teen driving and rising teen unemployment. As recently as 2012 to 2014, more teenagers found jobs and in turn began driving, HLDI data shows.

This makes sense to many parents and teens who have had this endless loop conversation:

Parent: If you want a car, you have to pay for it.

Teen: But if I have to pay for it, I need a job. And if I have a job, I need a car.

The result is a compromise where the parent drives the teen to work, or just pays for all of the expenses with the goal being that the teen eventually will foot the bill. Or, it ends with the teen driver jobless, carless, and texting in tennis shoes. Sound familiar?

With an economic upturn, and teen unemployment decreasing, will we learn that teenagers really do want to drive after all?

That’s what HLDI sees when looking at an inverse relationship between the unemployment spread and the ratio of teen drivers to prime-age drivers. HLDI estimates that 67% of the ratio's increase between 2012 and 2014 is connected with the decreasing unemployment spread.

Learn more in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety press release here.

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