Texting supplanting driving for Gen Y
A global trend is seeing Gen Ys drive significantly less than earlier generations. While more than one quarter of all 16-34 year olds in the U.S. do not have their driver’s license, this trend is even more widespread in Australia. Australian state government statistics show that at the end of the 2000s, just three per cent of teenagers in the greater Sydney region were fully licensed to drive, down from nearly a quarter in the early 1990s. Among 20- to 24-year-olds, the proportion of licensed drivers in the city slumped from 79 per cent in 1991-92 to 51 per cent in 2008-09. This is tracking with a historic drop in car ownership.1
As Matt Wade wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald, “Freedom and identity can now be found in mobiles, not motor cars.” 2. Or as the sustainable transport expert Tim Papandreou has put it about Gen Ys different priorities, “driving distracts from texting.”
In fact, studies have shown that a large majority of Gen Y attribute more importance to their phones than their cars. In the inner city, cars are also increasingly seen as a burden, not a freedom. There is nowhere to park, not to mention petrol fluctuations, fines, and maintenance. Young people are finding it more cost effective to use public transport in conjunction with other forms of transport like carshare service GoGet. 3
According to Forbes magazine, if the rates of people driving was the same as even just a year ago, there would be over 420 billion more miles travelled on our roads. Whatever the cause of this trend, and everything from helicopter parenting to environmental concerns has been implicated, other transport options that support this are growing.
Carshare organisations like GoGet allow people to use vehicles like they would a utility like electricity, using only as much as they need. Being able to go online and book a car for an hour or two fits with the flexibility Gen Y has come to expect and also keeps costs low by including petrol and insurance in the low hourly charge.