Skip to navigationSkip to content

Driving? The Kids Are So Over It

By The Wall Street Journal

Comments

  • Also share to
  • Annabeth  Jones
    Annabeth JonesHigh School Student

    As a member of gen Z I can tell you, at least in my experience, this is not true. Literally all of the people my age I know have their learner's permit or drivers license. And I live in a relatively urban area too.

  • Maggie Chan Jones
    Maggie Chan JonesproFounder & CEO at Tenshey, Inc.

    Digital transformation together with the shared economy has disrupted the auto industry and the rental car industry in a big way. The disruption will only get worse as Gen Z joins the Millennial generation to become the core part of the workforce and spenders.

  • Ian Myers
    Ian MyersFounder at Country House Enterprises

    Ahh the perspective of the urban/suburban teenager. Powerful stuff, but still a large sample set that is not at all representative of the nation.

    Growing up in rural America, there was no choice about getting a car. Until you got your license, the only option for getting anywhere was having your parents drive you. Getting a license was the only path for freedom.

    To be fair to this article though, I’ve never actually purchased a car. I used my parents cars until I left for grad school, moving

    Ahh the perspective of the urban/suburban teenager. Powerful stuff, but still a large sample set that is not at all representative of the nation.

    Growing up in rural America, there was no choice about getting a car. Until you got your license, the only option for getting anywhere was having your parents drive you. Getting a license was the only path for freedom.

    To be fair to this article though, I’ve never actually purchased a car. I used my parents cars until I left for grad school, moving into a more urban area—where a car was not necessary—proving that urbanization is probably the most powerful factor here. That being said, most of my classmates from high school stayed in Vermont and all bought cars.

  • It's never been about driving, the activity, rather, the freedom and independence. The social ramifications of a shift in when teens can obtain this level of freedom, previously only accessible with a licence, will be the more interesting thing to observe.

  • Boris Markovich
    Boris MarkovichCEO at StreetReader

    Teenagers with drivers licenses is down big over the last few decades. And young adults in their 20s are also increasingly passing on driving.

    Many reasons for this:

    1/growth of app based car services and ride sharing

    2/better options to remotely hang out with friends via video and social media

    3/rising price of new cars

    4/moving to cities reduces need for a car

    Those who do buy cars are increasingly buying used.

    Being a car manufacturer today is a tough business. Self driving cars can’t come fast enough.

  • Greg Vetter
    Greg VetterCEO at Tessemae’s

    Driving is a life skill that must be learned and mastered. To think a generation may not learn this critical skill due to “ride hailing apps” is a crime.

  • Driving is like swimming: a skill worth learning for the situations when you need it. Should everyone own a car? Of course not. But driving should be separated from that.

  • I have a 17 year old son who has no interest in it. I think it has a lot to do with helicopter parenting.

    Even though I don't feel like I am one of those parents, I do acknowledge that I have been somewhat protective of him due to the fact he has been diagnosed as having atypical Aspergers.

    In most cases, I'm sure that there are many reasons for it and I am sure there are multiple factors with my own experience.

  • I have two teenage daughters who will be of driving age in a few years. They claim the only reason they want to drive is to relieve me of the hassle of shuttling them around. Great kids huh?

    I recall growing up in suburban New England in the 80s and counting the minutes until my friends and I could drive. There was a lot of road racing, drinking and doing drugs while driving and sex in the back seat (and front seat sometimes too...)

    I have no problem at all with my kids and their friends not having

    I have two teenage daughters who will be of driving age in a few years. They claim the only reason they want to drive is to relieve me of the hassle of shuttling them around. Great kids huh?

    I recall growing up in suburban New England in the 80s and counting the minutes until my friends and I could drive. There was a lot of road racing, drinking and doing drugs while driving and sex in the back seat (and front seat sometimes too...)

    I have no problem at all with my kids and their friends not having cars and Lyfting everywhere. But you better believe they are going to learn to drive a manual transmission and parallel park nose-in first as soon as it’s time because it could save their or someone else’s life someday.

  • William Wood
    William WoodOwner at William Wood

    Seems possible, in urban centers, rural more problematic. What they will lose out on, is traveling the highways and byways, of this country. You get to know fellow citizens around the country and see what they see every day. I enjoy seeing a news cast or other video, when I can say we were there, back in .... sure you can fly, but you miss the real flavor of this country, which doesn’t all occupy a major city...

  • Not surprising. Ride sharing may cost per ride but not only do these kids avoid buying a car, insuring it and maintaining itt.. they don’t have to worry about finding parking and they are fee to drink etc .. and unlike previous generations they don’t have to see friends IRL to be social.. final nail in the coffin: like extremely high oriced designer bags the bragging rights are just not there anymore. If you have student debt there is no glory in driving something you can’t afford.. so yes they are so over it.

  • Mark Douglas
    Mark DouglasproPresident & CEO at SteelHouse

    We’re one good sound track, music video or Instagram meme away from reversing this trend. Popular culture dictates trends; not practically.

  • Heidi Hornick
    Heidi HornickJournalist at The View from Over The Road

    This information is very accurate. When my youngest children were teens, they preferred to take rideshare. For the most part, their friends did the same. Insurance rates and the availability of Uber, etc., had everything to do with it.

    For what it's worth, Uber is not just in urban areas but also runs in the burbs and many semi-rural areas.

  • Tessa Jackson
    Tessa JacksonFaubourg Advisers

    I guess these kids aren't into doomsday/apocalypse movies where the only working vehicles are big manual transmission trucks, with enough heft to take out a hoard of zombies or little green men.

    Well newsflash kiddos: your ride-sharing app won't help you during an alien invasion or zombie apocalypse.

    FTR: I got my license at 18, only after being bribed with an offer to split the cost of a used car. Five years later, I taught myself how to drive a stick shift because the automatic version of the car I wanted costed 20% more

  • Helen Edwards
    Helen EdwardsAlways curious at Koru Ventures

    I can’t square this trend with the crazy all-over-Instagram photos of trips taken to far flung, gorgeous and idiosyncratic parts of the USA where no Uber will go. Not to mention all my kids and kids friends love to drive and their license is still their ticket to independence and adult-level freedom.

  • David Yakobovitch
    David YakobovitchAI Professor at Galvanize

    I prefer to take car rentals hands down over Uber. How about Uber rentals?

  • Michael Pirillo
    Michael Pirillo

    I can't speak for all members of gen Z but as a young person who's 21 years old, I can say that the reason we don't have cars is because we cant afford them. I dont have a car and dont have plans to buy one because I don't want to purchase a car for all of my life's savings and the cost of upkeep is just too high especially when mechanics dont always fix all of the things they claim to fix so you have to pay twice to get one job done. But those are just the reasons why I dont have one.

    I would

    I can't speak for all members of gen Z but as a young person who's 21 years old, I can say that the reason we don't have cars is because we cant afford them. I dont have a car and dont have plans to buy one because I don't want to purchase a car for all of my life's savings and the cost of upkeep is just too high especially when mechanics dont always fix all of the things they claim to fix so you have to pay twice to get one job done. But those are just the reasons why I dont have one.

    I would also assume that the reason alot of gen z people dont have cars is because it is a rite of passage that they take on student debt and drown in the unaffordable cost of living making car purchases less of a priority.

    Edit: I am a rural living student who has to commute using other means

  • Annette Hopkinss
    Annette Hopkinss

    The reason I’ve held off on getting a license has more to do with academics than anything. It takes time to finish Drivers Ed and with college being so competitive, I’d much rather spend that time on extracurriculars and studying. Especially since the most popular option is an over the summer course, when I need to work on internships and research. It’s just not a priority compared to everything else.

  • John Gray
    John GrayFormer Banker Risk Management

    That may be true for urbanites and colleges where everything is on campus but everywhere else you have to drive. I don't think teens have given up on the outdoors yet.

  • Henry Tobias Jones
    Henry Tobias JonesEditor of Dyson on: at Dyson

    Agreed. They are also over freedom and privacy

  • John Gerzema
    John Gerzema proCEO at The Harris Poll

    The value of your time is something that I don’t think is accounted for in calculating the ‘cost’ of transportation. Ride-sharing is faster than having to find parking, for instance. There have been some studies showing 5-7k annual miles is the approximate break-even, which means urban living obviously.

  • Spiro Pappadopoulos
    Spiro PappadopoulosCEO at Schlow Restaurant Group

    The pendulum swings, but the luxury and freedom of one's own vehicle will not wane. EVs stand to change the way individual transportation takes place and in turn will motivate future generations to have them at their disposal.

  • I also wonder (and am surprised there was no mention of this in the article) if concern for the environment is also a factor among the Gen Zs (and if so, kudos to them). I'm a Gen X who doesn't drive (for various reasons) and I applaud this societal shift away from the dependence on personal motor vehicles.

  • Chloe Rao
    Chloe Rao

    Totally makes sense. Though I feel sad for the Gen Zs :( they seemed to be missing out on all the fun experiences the older generations have... driving is a hell lot of fun and a practical skills to have whether or not you own a car!

  • Lee Richards
    Lee Richards

    My issue with the decline in getting driving licences is they get on bicycles and have no idea of what and why cars do what they do. Learning the rules of the road is more than taking a class or reading a book, as all drivers know.

    My grandmother learned to drive in a model A Ford. She was a progressive woman. I honor her spirit.

  • Jari Martikainen
    Jari Martikainen

    Rising average cost of vehicle ownership (excluding the cost of the vehicle itself) is probably the biggest reason for the lack of interest in vehicle ownership.

  • Edward Dowling
    Edward DowlingProduct Manager

    I’m 31 and have never owned a car. I’ve lived in 4 cities across 3 countries since finishing high school. I’ve never felt the need. The only thing that will change that is if I had kids.

    Admittedly, most of the places I’ve lived in have had decent public transport (or, in the case of SF, so incredibly small that Uber is cheap).

    The necessity of a car for getting around in urban America is an indictment in how horribly governed the country is.

  • Michaelle Murphy
    Michaelle Murphy

    I think it’s great at a a time where our climate needs help. I’m glad my girls have other options. Cars are extremely expensive now and a real financial burden. I live in the country so it’s not optional. The grocery store or doctor is 37 miles away. I like it that way though. The older I get the less I want to interface with ppl.

  • Kimberly Sharkey
    Kimberly Sharkey

    So far two of my children delayed getting their license until it was necessary for them to drive to a job. We live in a suburban area, but also definitely need cars to get anywhere. I didn’t mind driving them around for an extra year or two, but once they needed daily rides to a job that was too inconvenient for me and a strain on my time. My youngest will be able to drive in another year. I feel like he’ll get it as soon as possible.

  • Sean Minuti
    Sean MinutiSoftware Architect

    Partially a result of over-parenting, partially the ability to get around by walking or mass transit in most cities, partially the pragmatism to avoid expensive insurance, young people have the luxury to choose whether to drive or not. Even those who have their license can avoid driving through those lifestyle choices, and leaning on friends and family. A college freshman nephew of mine does not drive. He took driver training classes and could get his license, but driving is just not his priority

    Partially a result of over-parenting, partially the ability to get around by walking or mass transit in most cities, partially the pragmatism to avoid expensive insurance, young people have the luxury to choose whether to drive or not. Even those who have their license can avoid driving through those lifestyle choices, and leaning on friends and family. A college freshman nephew of mine does not drive. He took driver training classes and could get his license, but driving is just not his priority, he sees it as saving money on insurance. So, yeah, he's over it.

  • Martin Storbeck
    Martin Storbeck Founder & CEO at STARK Group

    There are two layers to this development:

    First off, the trust my generation and those who follow put in technology is huge. Previous generations mended their cars themselves, took them apart and saw some pretty shitty engineering. They want to be in control because they don’t trust those things - which in addition we’re every stupid in their time. Meanwhile we grew up with machine intelligence developing exponentially. More and more processing power leads to enhanced algorithms. Those are shown

    There are two layers to this development:

    First off, the trust my generation and those who follow put in technology is huge. Previous generations mended their cars themselves, took them apart and saw some pretty shitty engineering. They want to be in control because they don’t trust those things - which in addition we’re every stupid in their time. Meanwhile we grew up with machine intelligence developing exponentially. More and more processing power leads to enhanced algorithms. Those are shown off on a daily basis, from constructed images of giant black holes to self driving motorcycles.

    And this is where the second point weighs in: If we decide to trust in technology, why should we spend our precious limited time driving around in circles from home to work to shopping then back home again and again? We could do so much more with that time. And while most of it will be spent on the next season of a Game of Thrones spinoff or endless hours on iMessage, Snapchat and WhatsApp ... every once in a while you see a story about someone who created something great on his daily commute in the train. Hopefully these stories will multiply as well

  • So true. See it with my own kids. Put wireless services on buses and trains and it will hasten the speed and widen the base of transformation.

  • Thomas Pareso
    Thomas Pareso

    Cars are too expensive, a lot of young people don't want to be saddled with that expense. They would rather spend their money another way.

  • John S
    John S

    #PeakCar

Want more conversations like this?

Join the Quartz community for all the intelligence, without the noise.

App Store BadgeGoogle Play Badge
Leaderboard Screenshot

A community of leaders, subject matter experts, and curious minds bringing nuance back to how we talk about the news.

Editors' Picks Screenshot

No content overload: our editors will curate the most notable and discussion-worthy pieces for you every day.

Share Screenshot

Don’t just read the story, tell it: contribute your ideas and experience to the dialogue.