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Driving is losing its appeal

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Less people are getting driver’s licenses — that’s according to researchers from the University of Michigan.

Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the UM Transportation Research Institute studied changes in the proportion of people who received a driver’s license from 1983 to 2014 and found a decline among those 45 and under.

For 18-year-olds, only 60 percent had a driver’s license in 2014, compared to 80 percent in 1983.

Even the percentage of Americans 45 to 69 years of age with a driver’s license has fallen from 2008.

Susan Shaheen, professor of transportation engineering at University of California, Berkeley, says the costs of car ownership influence driver licensure. 

“It is a large expenditure and in the absence of having enough money to live independently, having the luxury of owning a car that sits unused 23 out of 24 hours a day is something that a lot of younger people have started to move away from,” she said.

Ride-sharing service such as Uber and Lyft have become popular among Millennials. Automakers have noticed this downturn. General Motors recently invested $500 million in Lyft.

She said the concept of ride sharing or carpooling was created in the 1940s as a response to the war, and people’s desire to save fuel and the wear and tear on rubber tires. 

“But interestingly, the idea of carpooling has declined,” Shaheen said. “There’s a whole new set of services available including e-hail apps for taxis that enable this type of getting in a vehicle, possibly splitting that ride and splitting that fare with someone else that could be moving us back in the direction of having higher occupancy in vehicles.”

Additional production by Praveen Sathianathan.

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