Less Teenagers Applying For Driver's Licenses, What's The Matter With Kids Today?

Illustration for article titled Less Teenagers Applying For Drivers Licenses, Whats The Matter With Kids Today?

A troubling report from our favorite NY Times editor, and no it doesn't involve poorly substantiated insinuations that Bill Ford had a sexual relationship with John McCain. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the rate of licensed 16-year-olds dropped from 43.8% in 1998 to just 29.8% in 2006. You'll remember from our guide to teenage driving rules that some kids can get permits as early as 14. And where are these kids making out? It has something to do with the Internet. Other factors include the cost of private driver's instruction, now that school supported driving instruction dropped to just 20% from 90% in the 1980's.

We're sort of troubled in a parents-from-Bye Bye Birdie sort of way. We remember a friend who worked at an auto parts store and spent a good chunk of time fixing up her Ford Ranger. She loved that truck in a way we could all respect and was always amongst the first to offer up a ride. Her two sisters, on the other hand, are in college and still haven't learned to drive. We'll point out they also live in Boerne Stage, which is as inaccessible by public transit as you can imagine. On the other hand, less accident causing kids on the road the better.

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I couldn't wait to get my license. It was less than a week after my 16th birthday, and I stood in line half the frigging morning waiting for the corpulent sweaty examiner to decide eight cups of coffee might be enough to get him through one more damned kid.

I led the way to my (mom's) Opel GT with its low, low doors and low, low seats and the sweaty corpulent examiner rolled his eyes, steeled his nerve, and lunged at the car.

It resisted.

After a liberal whole-body application of KY Jelly he was able to insert himself into my car without popping out again. I took my seat and fastened my seat belts (the GT has two: shoulder and lap are separate.) I began to say something to the examiner on the fact he hadn't even looked at the seat belts on his side. Something in his eyes stopped me.

It was all worth it. Dark nights on the GW Parkway with Kate, dewy mornings on I95 with Ruth, it was worth it, oh yes.

Now, six months after his 16th birthday, and I still can't talk my own son into even prying open the training manual. What gives?

Even so, helping to prop up the average: my 14-y-o can't wait.