Young people just don’t own cars these days. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, only 44 per cent of teenagers have a driver’s licence and the number of vehicles purchased by drivers between the ages of 18 to 34 has dropped by approximately 30 per cent.
Back in the old days, cars were the definition of coming-of-age and growing up. A new car was the supercharged symbol of independence. Now, owning a car seems to be a responsibility and hassle that the millennials and Y-generation can (or seem to) do without.
But what has changed the cultural relationship between young people and the feeling they get when they sit behind a wheel for the first time? What’s making them reconsider skipping this significant milestone in life? Stick around as we list five reasons why this is the case.
Adulthood is one aspect that has changed for the new generation. It has been shown that young adults today are having difficulty establishing initial financial security – the kind of stability required to own a car. In a study done by the National Housing Federation, approximately three in 10 parents still have at least one son or daughter between the ages of 21 and 40 living at home with them. A majority of those parents admit that their children simply can’t afford rent elsewhere.
Merciful parents do not only offer substantial housing, but they commonly offer rides as well. Many young people have grown accustomed to the ask-and-receive taxi service they get from their parents. After all, it is a service that has existed throughout their entire lives – from trips to elementary school to being dropped off at middle school soccer practice and graduation house parties. Parents have always shown love in the form of drop-offs and pick-ups.
4. There Are Other Options
Automobiles are not the only option to get around town. Look down the street and you’ll see creative modes of transportation that weren’t as popular or simply didn’t exist a decade or two ago. Bike lanes are now available in most urban areas, as biking is now a highly regarded, eco-friendly alternative to driving. Long-boarding, skateboarding, rollerblading, electric scooters and other recreational activities have now become legitimate forms of transportation for many people who choose not to own a car.
Perhaps there was a time when kids had to walk miles to school, but today, urban communities are built around a central area that include markets, restaurants and public infrastructures. Most things people need are within walking distance. And the little push to be in a better shape has encouraged younger people to omit owning cars from their healthy lives completely.
3. Public Transit Got Better
Even though public transit is often criticized for its inconvenient, unreliable and highly impersonal relationship with commuters, young people still prefer it to the bothers of owning a car, finding parking and feeding the meter. All they need to do when they take transit is get familiar with the bus, train or ferry route and schedule, as well as the body odour and annoying banter of everybody else onboard.
Canadian public transportation has made vast improvements in every major city in the past few decades. Most people are able to walk out of their houses and locate a bus stop within a few minutes. Toronto and Montreal are rated as two of the top cities with the best Transit Score in 2014, ranking above many American cities – yet still behind New York and San Francisco, which are the exemplars of North American public transit design and implementation. Most notably, Vancouver has scored 74 points in the ratings, beating their neighbours to the south, Seattle, by 17 points.
2. The Internet
When you break it down, there are simply fewer reasons to travel nowadays with the Internet being the only connection to the outside world many seem to really need. Scary, but it’s true. Think of all the people you keep in touch with on Facebook that you never get to see in person? There was a time when the only way to see your friends is to physically leave the house and go see them. But today, we can chat with friends over a game of Call of Duty, work from home and live a perfectly fulfilling life from the comfort of our desk chair.
No group of people are more affected by the Internet dominion than the young people who have lived with it their whole lives. Internet has always been there for them, while cars have not. If they were to pick one or the other, it’s pretty clear which one they would choose.
1. Cars Are Expensive
In today’s world everything is expensive and cars are not an exception. In fact, cars are perceived as an extreme luxury item to many young people who are submerged in student loans and credit card debts. Most of them choose not to even think about all they would have to pay in insurance, maintenance and gas, if they owned a car.
But that doesn’t mean a car is unachievable for young people today. A vehicle is like every other big purchase – an investment – and it should be approached with tact and clarity, not simply pride and pleasure. There are many vehicles out on the market that offer rebate and incentives that will make buying a car – even a new one – an affordable and reasonable option.
If you are sick of taking the bus or riding the bike, it might be the time to see if owning a car is a possibility for you. Buying and owning a car is not impossible, not even if you are a young person. There might be a lot of great alternatives out there for those without a car, but remember, unlike a bus, your very own car won’t drive away from you when you are running towards it.