Autos Losing Allure for Young Adults, Study Shows

The San Francisco Chronicle
David R. Baker

Car culture and the romance of the open road are losing their allure among young Americans, according to a report released Thursday by a public interest group.

Teens and young adults drive substantially fewer miles per year than their predecessors did, and many don't even bother to get a driver's license. They increasingly rely on their feet, their bikes or mass transit, according to the "Transportation and the New Generation" report.

It's a profound shift in a country where getting a driver's license was long seen as a major milestone on the path to adulthood. The shift is one of several reasons U.S. gasoline use has fallen since 2006, after rising relentlessly for decades. It also suggests that government should spend less on building new roads and more on offering alternatives, according to the California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (CalPIRG), which issued the report.

"It calls into question the wisdom of our current transportation investment priorities," said Benjamin Davis, one of the report's authors and an analyst with the Frontier Group consulting firm.