WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Fewer teens asking for their driver’s license is a national trend and that translates to much quieter driving schools.
At 24, Imani Gordon is now aiming for her license. Road lessons help him get the comfort of being behind the wheel. After a few changes in his life, he realized he couldn’t wait to get his license.
“That’s what happened to me. I delayed it because I didn’t need it. I couldn’t buy a car, I was in college, I was commuting with the bus or with Uber, but now it’s for me to get my license,” Gordon said.
Driving schools in Connecticut are reporting a drop in attendance by teens seeking licenses. Nationally, the number of licensed 18-year-olds declined by approximately 20% between 1983 and 2018.
Statistics show that only 5% of all licensed drivers in 2020 were between the ages of 15 and 20, almost 5% less than the previous year.
The pandemic had a lot to do with it, as well as the increased use of social media.
“Fewer friends are going out, seeing other people these days, and even then you have Uber rides. It’s not such a big trend to get your license, especially since it’s hard to afford a car these days,” Gordon said.
The Chase 2 Driving School has seen how cost has affected the teen driver’s ability to get to the roads, which is a big factor nationwide. Between more expensive cars, gas, and insurance, it all adds up for teens and their families on a budget.
“Insurance for young teenagers is very expensive, and today with everything going up in price, there may be parents who think there’s something we need to hold back,” Vic said. Diaz, an instructor at the Chase 2 driving school.
After obtaining a license, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles requires 16- and 17-year-old drivers to receive at least 40 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction before applying for their driver’s license. Diaz said there have been times when students have expressed parental reluctance to help them complete this requirement.
“They just don’t see it that way. They think if my mom, dad, or uncle can’t get me out, they can’t get out. So we show them other avenues,” Diaz said.
Car accidents are another concern for young drivers. It is the leading cause of death among adolescents. 2022 is on track to be one of the deadliest years on the roads in decades, according to CT traffic researchers. There have been 232 fatal crashes in Connecticut so far this year, including 16 involving teenage drivers.