Whoever thought that the Internet would have such an impact that American teenagers would settle for less time driving in exchange for more time online? Fortunately, this phenomenon has also resulted in fewer deaths and injuries for teenagers involved in car crashes. The number of young people getting a driver’s license has also declined dramatically. Safety factors such as air bags may also be a factor, but the fact that many teenagers are no longer in a rush to get a license may also play a role.
The greatest decreases were among drivers in their late teens and early twenties. Near constant contact via devices may have reduced the need for young people to socialize face to face. Is this a case of something lost, yet something gained? More technology brings more opportunities to be “in touch” at the expense of more real time “in person” exchanges?
At the same time, the net effect of fewer deaths and injuries for American teenage driver and riders is some of the best news for us all. Stronger driver licensing laws in some states have also played a role. Some states have already reduced their rate of teen crash deaths by a half and they are to be commended: Montana North and South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas and Idaho.