How Michiana compares to a national drop in teen drivers

NOW: How Michiana compares to a national drop in teen drivers

A 2023 study from The Hill shows American teens are waiting longer than ever before to get behind the wheel. 

The article says the number of 16–19-year-olds with a license dropped from 64% in 1995, to just under 40% in 2021. 

There are a few reasons why this could be the case. First, car costs have surged in recent years. Inflation has also increased the cost of things like car insurance or gas. Many young people also seem to be more environmentally friendly, preferring to walk or bike to cut down on pollution. 

But it seems the pandemic may have played a role in teens getting behind the wheel, too. 

Number of teens aged 16-19 with a license in Elkhart, LaPorte, Marshall and St. Joseph counties 

  • 2017 -- 8,383 

  • 2018 -- 8,202 

  • 2019 -- 8,017 

  • 2020 -- 7,177 

  • 2021 -- 8,063 

  • 2022 -- 7,959 

The number of 16–19-year-olds with a license before the pandemic was well over 8,000 each year. 

In 2020, that number almost dipped below 7,000. 

In the following years, just over 8,000 had a license in 2021, and even less in 2022. 

Last year, it only got up to 8,064. 

A Mishawaka driving instructor, Driv Rite President, Arnie Horowitz says he hasn't personally seen a decline in teens seeking out driver's education to get their license sooner, but he does see plenty of adults coming for the first time. 

He believes the lack of normalized public transportation here could be a reason he's not seeing less teens seek out his services. Unlike big cities where things like subways or trains are at your disposal, most drivers in this area rely on themselves. 

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