The state of the great American teenager may be driving most of us crazy, but a new study indicates that may be all they are driving – as today’s teens appear to be trading in sets of wheels for two solid thumbs.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute say that nearly a third of 19 year olds living in the United States haven’t even attempted to get a drivers license. As an alternative, they are utilizing email and text messages to communicate rather than cruise the city streets with their friends.

The data contained in this study is the latest in a series, which chronicles a significant decrease in the number of teens making it a priority to get a license to drive.

While only about 13 percent of kids coming of age in 1983 didn’t seem to have an interest in the freedom of owning a car, recent information from the U.S. Census and Federal Highway Administration shows that in 2010 those numbers more than doubled with nearly 31 percent of 19 year olds not yet having a license.

The problem appears to be due to today’s teens being content with the use of public transportation and a complete lack of interest in owning a car unlike their predecessors from the baby boomer generation.

Automakers fear that this trend may eventually have a negative affect on the auto industry, since very few 19 year olds are making new car purchases these days without the help of their parents – most receive them as graduation presents.

Industry experts say that historical research has shown that youthful passions for a particular brand of automobile seems to have a large impact on the type of vehicle one is likely to buy as an adult. And that an overall disinterest in owning a vehicle now could possibly lead to even less interest in making a new, more expensive vehicle purchase later.

According to a recent survey by J.D. Power and Associates, the majority of the current new car market consists primarily of baby boomers – 50+ year olds generated 62 percent of all new vehicle sales in 2011 – up from 39 percent in 2001.

That is why more automakers are gearing their manufacturing plans towards more Gen-Y friendly vehicles – using the old automotive proverb, “You can sell a young person’s car to an old buyer but you can’t sell an old person’s car to a young buyer,”

The ultimate goal of the auto industry is to persuade more teens to drop their smartphones and start burning a little rubber – even though texting charges are still cheaper than gasoline.


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