Teens, young adults opting to wait for driver's licenses

A new study show the rush to the DMV for teens - and even young adults - may be slowing down. 

The study says the newest generation of potential drivers is waiting to get driver's licenses, if they get them at all.

For an older generation, getting a driver's license is a coming of age; a ritual of the road; a celebration of one's sweet 16 - at the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

"I got mine when I was 16, because I was 16 and wanted a car," said 18-year-old Renanta Nasution. "First day, on my birthday, ran out to the DMV, waited three hours and got my license."

"Just to get that freedom, just to be out on that road and have your own ability to go where you want to. I wouldn't want to put that off," said driver Ashley Peters.

But these days, teens and young adults seem to be pumping the brakes on the race to get a driver's license.

"I got my drivers license at 18," said Alex Nguyen. "All my friends had cars, so I just rode with them."

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute studied data from 1983 to 2014. They found the number of 16- to 44-year-olds getting drivers licenses is dropping.

Those 20 to 24 years old have gone from 91.8-percent having licenses to 76.7-percent. When it comes to 16-year-olds, the percentage of those with licenses went from 46.2-percent to 24.5-percent.

"A lot of kids, they just don't want to drive," said Christopher Meier of Autosafety Driving School.

Meier said he has witnessed the trend himself. But the older students get, the harder driving skills can be to teach.

"Lately we've been teaching a lot more 17-, 18-, and even 19- and 20-year-olds," Meier said. "Right now, I think I have five kids in college."

The answer behind why younger people aren't flocking to the DMV could be in an earlier study by the same group. It found many don't have time to get a license, they can't afford it, or they just get rides from other drivers.

"Between having to buy a car, plus insurance, plus gas, a lot of them simply can't afford it," Meier said.

"Before Internet and before cell phones were so popular, we were maybe going to each others' houses and hanging out in person more," said Peters.

Christopher Dunton waited until age 19 to get his. But in his case, those extra years worked to everyone's advantage.

"Time. No one had time to teach me and just no money for a vehicle," Dunton said. "I made sure I knew how to drive properly before getting it."

And not everyone is hanging up the keys. The number of adults age 70 and older with driver's licenses has increased since the 80s - from 55-percent with licenses to 79-percent.