Peak car ?  

Posted by Big Gav in

The Australian has an article on declining interest amongst Gen Y for getting a drivers licence - Driving me crazy: Getting a licence a low priority for Generation Y.

In 1991, of NSW kids aged 20-24, 79 per cent had licences. By 2001 it had risen to 80 per cent. Yet by 2008 it had crashed to just 51 per cent and continues to decline. A new study in Victoria by Monash University shows the number of licence holders under 30 is dropping at more than 1 per cent a year.

Having a smartphone is more important to Gen Y than having a car in a world experienced increasingly online. They have less reason to leave their bedrooms than ever before. The once pervasive car culture of the US is also in decline. In 1978, nearly half of American 16-year-olds and three-quarters of 17-year-olds had driver's licences, according to Department of Transportation data. In recent years, that has fallen to 31 per cent of 16-year-olds and 49 per cent of 17-year-olds, with the decline accelerating since 1998. ...

This phenomenon fits neatly into the theory of "peak car", which posits that vehicle kilometres per person travelled has peaked in at least eight major developed countries, including Australia.

In December 2008, researchers from the Brookings Institute observed that total vehicle miles travelled in the US began to plateau in 2004 and fell in 2007 for the first time since 1980. Per capita driving was following a similar pattern.

Similar stories are appearing in the US - Cars In America: Is The Love Story Over? and Young adults and driving: 'Ain't nobody got time for that' - quoting this study - Timing of Driver’s License Acquisition and Reasons for Delay among Young People in the United States, 2012.

Studies show that teenagers are driving less, getting their licenses later, and waiting longer to purchase their first new car. NPR's Sonari Glinton recently hit the streets to find out why, and discovered not having a car or not being able to afford one, has become a lot more common. The negative stigma around not having a car has also seems to have waned. ...

Micheline Maynard, a veteran journalist who's covered automobiles and transportation issues, now oversees the website CurbingCars.com. She tells NPR's Don Gonyea that one of the most cited reasons behind this trend of young people waiting to get a car or their driver's license is simply not having the time. "Many states have now changed teen driving laws, so you have to spend a certain amount of time in the car with a parent," Maynard says. "And people just shrug and say, 'You know what, I don't need to get a license right now.' "

Another reason often cited is money. Maynard says the average cost of a new car is about $30,000, before factoring in car insurance. Add in the high price of gas in some places and owning a car is simply too expensive for a young person.

There are also more transportation options available for those without a car, Maynard notes, from bikes, to ride shares, hourly car services and public transportation. "Public transit is seeing record demand at this point in time," she says. "I think people are looking at transportation now as 'I use my car when I need it, but if there are other cheaper, faster ways to get somewhere I'll use that as well.'

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