Report: Young People Are Driving WAY Less

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Young people riding the bus (photo US PIRG)

Young people are driving almost a quarter fewer miles than they were a decade ago.  A new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research says that between 2001 and 2009, the average number of vehicle miles traveled by young people decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita.

During that same period, driving overall dropped 6 percent.

"Young people are driving less for a host of reasons," according to the report, which defines young people as 16-34 year olds. "Higher gas prices, new licensing laws, improvements in technology that support alternative transportation, and changes in Generation Y’s values and preferences—all factors that are likely to have an impact for years to come.

The data are based on the National Household Travel Survey. It also showed:

*The number of passenger miles traveled on transit by young people rose 40 percent.

*Young people took 24 percent more bike trips.

*They walked 16 percent more frequently.

*The share of 14 to 34-year-olds without a driver's license increased from 21 percent to 26 percent in the decade after 2000 (Source: Federal Highway Association).

The report attributes the decline in driving to communications technology and social networking, which can replace some car trips.

In addition, the report says, smart-phone apps and web sites that make real-time transit data available have made car-sharing, bike-sharing, and public transit more user friendly.

The report also says the recession has played a role, as unemployment and high gas prices can make place car ownership, and driving, out of reach.

But it says the rule holds across economic classes, employed and unemployed.