Turning 16 has long been a rite of passage, but many teens are holding off on that first ticket to freedom: the driver's license. The percentage of 16-year-olds licensed nationwide fell from 43.8% in 1998 to 29.8% in 2006, the New York Times reports. States are tightening underage driving laws even as families balk at the rising costs of insurance and driver's ed.
The lure of the Internet is keeping teens indoors and unlicensed, while parents' willingness to chauffeur their kids for safety's sake keeps many youngsters happily in the passenger seat. “I get rides and stuff, so I’m not worried about it," said one Michigan 17-year-old. "I’ll get around to it, maybe this summer sometime.”