May 14, 2013

Young people are driving less and less.

But why? Is it economic pressure?
Online life might have something to do with the change, [suggested Michael Sivak of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan]. “A higher proportion of Internet users was associated with a lower licensure rate,” he wrote in a recent study. “This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people.”
I get the sense that younger people are generally less interested in traveling. The idea that travel is the best thing to do with your free time and extra money... that's fading, isn't it? Something old people do.

There was also this article a few days ago saying "Americans are moving around the country a lot less frequently than they used to." That didn't specifically focus on the young.

So... is something happening to us? We're not so adventurous or not so restless or we've overcome the delusion that moving around changes who you are? We're lazy and the couch potatoism has extended into everything about the way we live? We long for the friends and family that our grandparents and great-grandparents had in the days when everyone — in this nostalgic true/false memory — stayed in one town and you had deep roots and connections to all sorts of people who loved and cared for you (or disliked you but at least knew you).

90 comments:

Drago said...

At $3.75 per gallon and no jobs, maybe the kiddies simply don't have the wherewithal to drive much of anywhere.

Forward!

Shanna said...

I get the sense that younger people are generally less interested in traveling. The idea that travel is the best thing to do with your free time and extra money... that's fading, isn't it

It's expensive. I don't think it's any more complicated than that.

When I was in high school, gas was a dollar a gallon.

MadisonMan said...

If you can walk or bike wherever you need to go, then why drive?

Saint Croix said...

Maybe we had two beers and we're too drunk to leave the house.

edutcher said...

Drago has it. High gas prices and no job (and maybe no car if they're still at home) are going to put a real crimp in their mobility.

Online wouldn't stop them. Who does all that texting and sexting?

Grandma and Grandpa?

Nonapod said...

You don't need to leave the house to shop (Amazon) or rent movies (Netflix). You don't need to go to the library to look stuff up. You don't need to go to the bank or postoffice. In many jobs you don't even have to go into work that often with telecommuting. You can research all you want about a vacation destinations online, and be more choosey about where you go.

Jeff Teal said...

Insurance,gas, parking and high unemployment with high debt.Not a lack of desire just a lack of means.

Paddy O said...

Gas prices.

A week after graduating high school, three friends and I got in a Dodge pickup (with a shell), drove from SoCal through Utah, South Dakota, Chicago, got to DC on July 3rd, watched the Fireworks on the 4th, made a loop down South, came back on the 40, stopping at large and small sites along the way.

Can't imagine doing that now. It would cost us about 4 times more, and we already were stretched for cash.

Like Shanna, gas as $1/gallon. It dropped below a dollar around 1999 or so.

Now, it's too expensive to cruise about. And there are other distractions to keep the complaints down.

Paddy O said...

Wssn't this the stated goal of this country's energy policy?

Nomennovum said...

Teenagers aren't driving for the same reason younger kids don't run or bike around anymore.

Oclarki said...

Do younger people have a sense of independence and a longing for freedom any longer? Between helicopter parents and the nanny state isn't all desire for adventure beaten out of kids. When I was a teenager I would drive up the the mountains by myslef to fish and hike or just drive around seeing new places. It was awesome, and I'm sad that that part of the American experience is fading away.

Larry J said...

Owning a car isn't cheap and kids are used to mooching off their parents.

As far as people not moving as often as in years past, it could have something to do with the housing bust. If you're upside down on a mortgage, it's harder to sell your home and move elsewhere. Plus, people generally move to take a new job and there are precious few of them anywhere.

My wife and I moved to another state last year. I'd lost my job in Colorado and got a new (and better) job in Alabama. Our home was paid for but the move happened so quickly that we didn't have time to put it on the market. We're renting it out and will attempt to sell it when the lease expires. Fortunately, our tenants are Canadian military so we have almost 2 1/2 more years on the lease. Perhaps the housing market will improve by then.

Russ said...

Moving around the country less probably has to do with both breadwinners working being much more common. It's a lot harder to uproot two careers and move them than a single one.

Shanna said...

Do younger people have a sense of independence and a longing for freedom any longer?

There was a really interesting story about kids need for freedom in a british paper the other day.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I thought young people were balling more and more.

Maybe they walk or something.

George Sewell said...

Travel has never been more convenient, accessible, affordable, and destinations reachable. Yes, gasoline costs about $1.90 a gallon more than it should, but something else is at play. I suspect many younger folks have yet to make acquaintance with stars, the moon, planets, trees, forests, rivers, lakes, cool breezes, lizards, flowers...you know the list. A wanderlust or restlessness needs a horizon, a frontier, an unknown to explore. Freedom is the fuel. Perhaps in many subtle ways the current younger set (a temporary status for sure) is frightened of life. New ideas, new people, different food, history, nature (as opposed to environment) are things best insulated against, not sought.

George Sewell said...

Travel has never been more convenient, accessible, affordable, and destinations reachable. Yes, gasoline costs about $1.90 a gallon more than it should, but something else is at play. I suspect many younger folks have yet to make acquaintance with stars, the moon, planets, trees, forests, rivers, lakes, cool breezes, lizards, flowers...you know the list. A wanderlust or restlessness needs a horizon, a frontier, an unknown to explore. Freedom is the fuel. Perhaps in many subtle ways the current younger set (a temporary status for sure) is frightened of life. New ideas, new people, different food, history, nature (as opposed to environment) are things best insulated against, not sought.

Amartel said...

TV, online entertainment, video games, drugs, shitty education.
All things which serve to suppress a questing mind.
In addition, fear. Of other people. We're the most multicultural nation in the world and we're all living in fear of each other thanks to the political correctness. Everyone is afraid to leave their balkanized comfort zones. Who knows what lurks out there on the road? Who wants to get vibed wandering into Other Peoples' territory?

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

In contrast, I know a lot more young people who have been overseas than I knew when I was their age.

Driving less and less doesn't necessarily mean less mobility.

Broomhandle said...

I get the sense that younger people are generally less interested in traveling.

Au contraire.I know many under-30's who are avid travellers, in the US and abroad. Many do it on a shoestring budget, using social media to make contacts abroad, minimize accommodation and travel expenses, and get intelligence from locals, thereby avoiding trial-and-error.

traditionalguy said...

Wander lust is not found in the new cultures that are immigrating here. They move here for prosperity and settle down in a community of the countrymen and make a way of life here like the one in the old country.

Our Scots/Irish habit of always moving on to see new places is what settled this continent. (See, How the West Was Won) but it has gone away.

So we stay at home and play the Open Window App on the Ipad while we tend our own garden and play local golf courses.

But this weekend we will be traveling to North Carolina again. Maybe we will add in a trip over to the Spring Blooms display at the Biltmore House and Gardens in Ashville.
















Steve Koch said...

It is the economy and price of gas, kids can't afford to buy cars and if they do have a car, they can't afford much gas.

People don't move as much cuz they are afraid of losing their job and not getting a new job in a new area. Cali used to be a magnet but now the economy sucks in Cali.

Another factor is that if both husband and wife are working, it is difficult for them both find jobs in the new place (let alone have reasonable commutes). A lot of people are under water on their mortgages, so they can't sell their house without taking a beating.

Lefty economics has left the economy permanently weakened and the lives of our people are diminished as a result. When I was a young buck, I had driven across the country from Missouri in my pickup with a canvas camper three times (on vacations to Cali, Florida, and New England) before I was 20.

bagoh20 said...

Today you see street views of any neighborhood or even remote mountain roads like you're standing there. You can interact with people directly in other countries. You can learn anything you could want about those places, and even have your choice of souvenirs sent via fedex. All this from your desktop or smartphone without leaving home. There is just a lot less to get from travel that you used to get.

My favorite form of travel is just jumping in my truck and heading out through the desert, mountains, and woods, especially if I have no idea where I'm gonna end up. Modern technology has really robbed us of the risk, uncertainty, and adventure that travel once included. That's why I want my self-driving car with the random destination feature.

Everything is just too damned easy today.

virgil xenophon said...

All above make good points that have validity, but I'd add that it seems to be--the vibe, if you will--is that as a nation we've lost that sense of confidence and adventure that saw life as a series of limitless positive possibilities with the world to explore. Now just sampling one's own cities' night-life brings its own often very serious dangers and the open-road is no longer so inviting either. The Ted Bundy's of this world still live and members of MS 13 can be found in many rural us hamlets. Drunken forays by college kids into Mexican border towns are now life threatening whereas in past times the biggest risk was VD. Need I go on?

Leland said...

If the teenagers I've seen recently are examples, adventures can be had a plenty on any computer or game console. Further, you can not just talk to your friends via in-game chat (text or audio) but people from other countries. The other kid from Germany, Korea, or where ever will be happy to tell you how boring where they are is, and they rather just play the video game.

virgil xenophon said...

Look, Faith Popcorn picked up on this "cocooning" trend well over 30 yrs ago, it's just more advanced..

dmoelling said...

Remember that most miles in this country are put on by commuters. I travel a lot for business and pleasure, a lot of it by car. But since I live about 1.5 miles from my office my cars don't accumulate much mileage. If you are not commuting you don't put on the miles. (Telecommuting is not yet a big impact). With a record number of people not working (higher for youngsters) no wonder driving is down.

glenn said...

Two generations ago my Grandfather made the local paper because he drove ALL THE WAY from Western Iowa to CHOCAGO. Fact is as the American economy declines people won't be travelling as much. Do the math.

Sayyid said...

In the bad ole Bush years, when the federal minimum wage was $5.15, a teen would have to deign to stoop to such an undignified minimum wage position in order to drive the average 20mpg car only 100 miles for their hour's labor.

In the good new Obama years, when the minimum wage has been raised to $7.25 an hour, a teen can drive a remarkable nearly-35 miles on an hour's labor -- while being ever so thankful he has a job at all!

Inga said...

My sister and I had the best adventures of our young lives by just hopping in the car on a whim with a map of the US and a little bit of saved up money, with a few changes of clothing. Gas was cheap in those days. Luckily we didn't run into anyone really dangerous along the way.

bagoh20 said...

One thing that is really awesome about California and the western U.S. is that you can just drive away from the city and in no time be in places that are almost like another planet. High in the mountains above the tree line, or deep in a forest, or out on a desolate desert road miles from civilization. You can do all these things in a single day with nothing more than a tank of gas, some free time, and a little wanderlust. The hardest thing to find is someone to go with you.

Mark said...

The United States used to have a car culture. People would be excited about the new cars coming out, and people who couldn't afford the newest ones would buy older cars, and set to work modifying them. When you work on something, you care about it.

Today, cars cannot be worked on. The complexity, the regulations, and the need to pass the yearly smog check makes this so. While objectively cars are much better today (more power, speed, reliability, etc), everything is set against the young person making a car their own.

I think another aspect is that since most Americans travel more via airplane, the road trip 500 miles away doesn't have the allure it once had. For a 18 year old, that 500 mile trip away from home was freedom. During that time on the road, a bond is made between man (or woman) and machine. Today, not so much.

Ralph Nader and Joan Claybrook went to war against the car culture. While the great sporty cars of today make it seem like they lost, the change in the attitudes of the next generation my yet give them victory.

At 52 years old, I still remember removing the engine from my '68 VW, the difference in the handling when I swapped out my '72 Chevelle steering box for a Trans Am one (yes, they were interchangeable), the peppiness of my '78 Rabbit, the pure fun of putting tire chains on my '83 Turbo Colt and playing in the snow, and the painful fun in owning a '69 TR6. I remember all 13 cars that I have owned.

Thirty years hence, I doubt a young man of today will remember the cars of his past. That will be his loss.

Ann Althouse said...

"If you can walk or bike wherever you need to go, then why drive?"

Define "need." That's my focus here. What are these "needs" and how are they determined?

tangurena said...

I'm working on yet another bachelors degree and many of the younger students in my classes (many of them have fathers younger than me - hmm, maybe I should have a seat over there) take public transport, or bike. But then, this is Denver, a very bike friendly city with a good public transport system.

The youngest of my classmates (up to about 22-23) are still living with parents, so I suspect they're using the parents' cars as needed. Owning a car is expensive and many of the youngest classmates have never had a job ever. This makes me feel weirder than usual as I had about 5 different jobs before I got to college the first time in my teenage years.

The classmates that drive are usually married and in their upper 20s and 30s. There seem to be 3 separate populations of students in my courses (business school): the youngest ones went to college straight out of high school, the foreign students (business school has a lot of Saudi and Chinese students) and the older returning students.

This isn't data, just anecdotes, but it may be of some use to help figure out why the statistics don't seem to make a lot of sense.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Define "need." That's my focus here. What are these "needs" and how are they determined?


Why, whatever President Foodstamps says it is, you silly academic. What a strange question.

Tibore said...

I agree with Drago, Shanna, etc. It's cost. The transition of anything internet - most especially including social networking - to mobile devices with near constant connectivity is already well underway. So I don't believe it's some "anchoring" to a point of service that's accounting for the lack of travel. In my mind, it's cost. And I think that's backed up by observation (although I freely admit, this is personal anecdote, nothing more): Many people I know don't travel due to cost alone. They express desires to do so, but they simply do not.

I'm further skeptical of the suggestion due to the fact you can argue that ubiquitous, mobile connectivity helps enhance travel. Screw schlepping around a Fodors; I can download that onto a smartphone or tablet (and have done so before!) and use that along with mapping features, review sites, and so on to really gain knowledge of a place before ever setting foot in it. Sure, granted, it's no longer personal discovery at that point, but nothing about connectivity says that can't happen. My point is that the internet can have an encouraging effect on travel by removing a lot of the information gap a traveler has when going someplace new.

virgil xenophon said...

Talking of gas prices as a limiting factor, I'm old enough to remember that as a teen in the 50s gas averaged 26 cents/gal with as low as 17 cents during price wars and that we were outraged when, in 1960 on a trip from Ill to CA, gas was 42 cents in the middle of the Ariz desert, lol.

rhhardin said...

I stopped travelling willingly in the late 60s after one too many flights across the Pacific on a DC6.

Motels are the same everywhere.

bagoh20 said...

" painful fun in owning a '69 TR6".

Ahhahaha. A british car is such an irritation. You end up absolutely ecstatic on those rare days when it just runs, period.
I had an MGB that was actually pretty reliable. I even drove it all the way to Ensenada, Baja Mexico and back without a break down, but I also had a friend in the 70s with a TR7 that he bought brand new, and I swear it only ran about 10 days a month. A great looking car back then, but what a piece of shit.

Dante said...

Why bother driving if you can get the interaction you need on the internet? On the cell phone?

Going someplace in and of itself doesn't seem like a worthwhile pursuit. In fact, it's largely overhead.

ALP said...

RE: moving less.

Most data I have seen on moving patterns show that as we age, we are less inclined to pull up roots and move. The prime moving years are the late 20's - mid 30's. Thus the graying of the US population is probably impacting mobility, along with real estate and employment issues.

AJ Lynch said...

Thirty years ago, people I know moved west to CA or AZ or NV because they had growing economies, job opportunities, and better weather. The only thing left now is the better weather.

It is a pretty obvious answer- people immigrate primarily for opportunity and to improve some aspect of their lives. If economy stays stagnant, the moving companies will go out of business and we won't need border fences.

virgil xenophon said...

And this fact of decrease in travel is made even stranger considering the fact most live such great distances from work compared to years before. In 1944 >60% of all Americans lived within walking distance of work. Today that figure is <1.5% iirc. The old inner-city neighborhoods that abut the Old Dixie brewery on Tulane Ave in New and the abandoned Falstaff brewery nearby are classic examples of the 1944 statistic.

annk said...

This ties into another interesting phenomenon: teens who not only don't drive, but who can't--who never bothered to learn or get their license.

I don't have children but live in a town that's home to a major university (without much public transportation) and have been stunned at how many young adults don't care about being able to drive.

virgil xenophon said...

**New Orleans..

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Maybe it's things like this:



Stop for gas, put your life in danger

And if you need more that one second to guess the Race of the victims, and the Race of the criminal animals, you are truly beyond hope.

Lyssa said...

I'm sure that internet, costs, etc. all play a role, but I was surprised at how many kids I knew in my teen years (1990s) who just didn't get their licenses. Now, they were happy to mooch rides (which I was happy to provide, because, yay, more chances to drive). But they would claim to be afraid to drive, or just did not want to, or something. Kids of broken homes, from an artsy community, but one with no public transport to speak of.

It was odd, but I suspect that kids like that have become even more common.

The fact that their parent(s) were mostly too self-absorbed/caught up in their own dramas to really help them or teach them probably played a role, too.

Shanna said...

Many people I know don't travel due to cost alone.

Yes, I would love to go wandering more regularly, but I just can't afford to. I have to save for and plan my trips. Hotels alone are astronomical. I think that's why that couch surfing idea has caught on.

When I was a student I didn't have a car and most of my traveling was spent going home for holidays.

virgil xenophon said...

@annk/

I think it's a "I didn't want those grapes" psychic defense because so many cannot afford the car of their dreams anymore. (I know, psychobabble...but my best guess)

Tibore said...

Oh, yeah, yeah... I should've read the linked article before commenting. The U of M study wasn't making much more than note of the association between internet usage and licensing. That doesn't necessarily mean that there's a direct, causal relationship there; it's merely a correlation.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If you can walk or bike wherever you need to go, then why drive?

I think it all depends on who you are asking and where they live. Yes. When I lived in SF, eons ago, I rarely drove my car. Public transportation was adequate. I also pretty much stayed in "The City" for most things. Everything was convenient.

However, in an outlying area, you MUST drive, even if regular gasoline is over $4 a gallon here.

And as already stated, you don't need to go out of your house anymore to do many routine things, thanks to the marvel of the internet and technology.

However, moving from place to place and travel just for the heck of it is also down. Moving for work used to be a very common thing to do. Now people are either afraid to make a leap or to tied down. Two bread winners, also as stated, are difficult to relocate.

If we become so parochial that we lose the ability to recognize that people in other areas have validity, we lose our curiosity, our desire to improve our lives and just 'settle' for what we have and rely on government to take care of us, we will have completely lost the essence of what it is to be Americans. If we do this, I doubt our country will continue as a whole entity for many more years and we will see the fragmenting of the country. Maybe not such a bad thing in some respects.

wildswan said...

The young people I know have been to foreign countries before they were 17 and went with their parents. That's a big difference.

Some others went with the Army to places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Remember that everyone in the Army since 9/11 has faced gunfire whereas the Army that fought the First Gulf War had generals who had never been shot at since they were lieutenants in Vietnam. Army includes Reserves and National Guard - millions.

Some others like survival courses and rock-climbing and that sort of thing, which can be very difficult and still not involve cars.

The one thing I notice is that I know for certain that if I go somewhere else things will be different and I'll learn something new whereas they seem to think that they already know what is there.

Kohath said...

Driving and moving are part of life. Life is a lot less worth living lately, so people drive and move less.

Bender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bender said...

OK fine. So everyone beat me to it.

I'll delete.

Shanna said...

not to mention that a car now costs as much as a house used to cost.

Good point. I have been wanting a new car lately (mine is 10 years old) but the cost of new cars puts me off. Basically nothing under 20k and anything with a decent engine is up to 30 or more. Insanity!

Steve Koch said...

The internet and smart phones make vacationing a lot more efficient. I was on a summer vacation in Oregon and it was raining a lot (quel surprise) so every day I would start the day by looking at the state weather forecasts and then making travel arrangements accordingly (which requires that you pick motels that are very flexible about cancellations). It worked out great.

If you are in Oregon and the rain gets to you, you can usually find plenty of dry areas east of the Cascades.

jimbino said...

I'm and old guy sitting here at my home in Austin with four "kids" around 20 who just breezed in from Oregon, with its 13% unemployment, to seek work in Texas with its under 5% unemployment. They have no car.

Smart it was of them to leave a socialist state to migrate to a freer state that favors work over welfare. They stay socially "connected" all day long, but are becoming aware of the fact that they will soon need to travel some by car to enjoy the music festival of Kerrville, the lakes, rivers and parks and to get to know the honky tonks, barbecue joints and Hippy Hollow of Central Texas.

They are all chain smokers, but fortunately have no kids, cats or dogs to limit their youthful horizons. One of the four can drive a stick shift. None of them speaks a foreign language. In contrast, the Brazilian youth I've entertained here are multi-lingual and have problems driving an automatic, which is rare in Brazil.

Part of the reason I left home around their age to travel widely and even dwell and work in foreign countries was the apparent conspiracy of church, schools and parents to stultify Amerika's youth--a conspiracy so well documented by Paul Goodman in "Growing Up Absurd."

The conspiracy goes on, only it now exacts penalties of high tuition, prison for smoking the wrong plant, touching a girl before the proper invitation, etc.

These kids would be smart to skip overpriced college and use the Web to travel, learn and free themselves from parents, gummint and religion. If I were their parents, I would do just that.

Mick Havoc said...

Gas is definitely a factor.
Last week I flew to Phoenix in order to drive my dad's 2011 Buick back to Milwaukee.
The flight out cost $130
The cost of the fuel for the drive back was $270. I averaged almost 30mpg.

R. Chatt said...

The "need" for exploration, to visit new places, learn new things can be done through the computer with a lot less hassle.

Driving used to be more fun when there were less cars on the roads, when the speed limits were lower, when gas was cheaper and so were the cars.

I have noticed however that young people applying to elite colleges volunteer in remote and exotic places like Uganda, etc. They just don't drive there.

R. Chatt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve Koch said...

Jimbino,

The political/economic story of Oregon illustrates the terrible impact that lefty politics has on people. Oregon used to have a thriving logging industry but the lefties have ruined it with their regulations. Men who used to make good money in the logging industry now can't get a logging job and are often forced to go on welfare. It's all good for the dems though, cuz after a while those guys on welfare give up and vote dem so their welfare benefits are protected.

In Oregon you can't pump your own gas cuz there is a state law that says all gas must be pumped by an attendant.

rhhardin said...

Somewhat related to driving, the Feds recommend cutting the DUI limit from .08 to .05, saying that it "cut alcohol related deaths by half in countries that did it."

That's what would happen if .08 had no effect on driving at all.

You want to cut deaths, not alcohol-related deaths.

virgil xenophon said...

@rhhardin/

"Alcohol-related" stats are bogus. Did you know the Feds count it as an "alcohol-related" driving accident/death if the driver is sober but the passenger or pedestrian harmed is drunk? And sight unseen dollars to donuts the reduction in deaths is because people are afraid to drive because of the lower limits and live in small nations with extensive public transport over short distances.

Keystone said...

Back in the 50's and 60's many young men dreamed of getting a motorcycle and riding cross country. Some did on a budget (Che' did that). Now you see those pot bellied, balding guys on very fancy bikes.

During the 60's and 70's the goal was to back pack around Europe. The American dollar and Icelandic Airlines made it cheap.

There was also lots of hiking in the national parks.

gerry said...

If you can drive to where you want to go, why bike or walk?

I used to love to travel, but it has become too much of a pain in the butt.

bpm4532 said...

Cars are expensive. Cash for clunkers removed quite a few of the inexpensive used cars from the market. Insurance is expensive. Every freaking town and state has stickers to buy.

Most importantly, a great deal of the interaction is via Facebook, Twitter and text messaging. It's easier to stay put and communicate with more people.

Tom said...

We as a society are becoming more risk-adverse. The 90s were a period where people were risking it all to start new businesses and dot.coms. And that bubble burst.

But we're also raising our kids to be more risk-adverse. Helicopter parenting is destroys a child's self confidence by robbing them of their individual success and protecting them from failure.

The govt also create massive disincentives to being successful.


Combine these three factors and its no wonder the country's economy isn't growing.

Peter said...

Prices of not-completely-worn-out used cars remain surprisingly high, as many just keep driving them until the wheels fall off.

And you do need some credit to get a car loan.

And ex-students loaded up with student debt might not be in a hurry to sign up for an 84-month new car loan anyway.

So many reasons. Perhaps availability of social life online is one of them, but economic realities seem closer to home. After all, if you'd just signed up for an 84-month loan for a car you couldn't afford, would you want to risk it by actually taking it out and ... driving it?

Larry J said...

R. Chatt said...

Driving used to be more fun when there were less cars on the roads, when the speed limits were lower, when gas was cheaper and so were the cars.


I don't know about that. I've been driving for 40 years, getting my license just a few months before the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Gas averaged from 50-60 cents a gallon for most of the time from 1973-78. Adjusting for inflation, 55 cents per gallon in 1975 would be $2.38 today. Gas topped $1 a gallon for the first time around 1978 with the fall of the Shah of Iran. Adjusting for inflation, that'd be $3.57 today. I just bought some gas for $3.17 so it's actually about 12% cheaper than it was in 1978.

When you're looking at the prices of cars then and now, don't forget to allow for inflation. I bought a brand new 1974 Honda Civic for just under $3000 (tax and everything). That's be $14,147 today which is a bit cheaper than what a new Civic costs but you get a lot more car today. That '74 Civic had a 4 speed manual transmission, manual choke, no air conditioning and only an AM radio. It averaged about 32-35 MPG on the highway and was a hell of a lot of fun to drive.

As for the speed limits being slower, yeah, but that sucked if you had a long trip. The lower speed limits added hours to many of the trips I took back then.

G Joubert said...

The cost of (a) gas, (b) maintenance and upkeep, (c) insurance for youthful drivers, and (d) the car itself renders the whole thing too expensive for most utes anymore.

Broomhandle said...

Mark,
I had a '78 Rabbit and it was a gas to drive. It wasn't a sports car but I drove it like one and it handled like one.

tangurena said...

The AICPA (the professional organization representing CPAs) is blaming student loans:

75% have made a personal or financial sacrifice--such as delaying a home purchase and postponing marriage and children--because of monthly student loan payments.

http://blog.aicpa.org/2013/05/student-debt-delays-spending-saving-and-marriage-infographic.html

wyo sis said...

It might be regional or urban vs rural. Kids do a lot of driving around here and they do it because it's a long way from one place to another. Students in our school district sometimes travel up to 25 miles on two lane roads to get to school every day. Where my daughter lives high school students travel through a national park to get from their little town to the nearest high school.

In Wyoming our one university can be as far as 5 and a half hours away.

Every one of my children has gone on a road trip with friends after high school for one reason or another. It's a great experience and helps them learn some important things in a group situation where they have some back-up if things go wrong.

SOJO said...

I don't think it is fading so much as they've all traveled a LOT more than my gen did by the time they are in college (for the same social class level). We maybe had one trip to Europe or Hawaii under out belt. They've gone somewhere major at least twice of year, every year since junior high, plus smaller jaunts as little kids.

However, it's true that knowing that all, but the most far flung corners of the world are just more Starbucks and cellphones does take some of the fun out of it. I don't know if the whole youth hostel thing holds any romance under those conditions.

My 20-something relative-into-travel now is really more of an adventurer. He hikes Peru, Yosemite, Costa Rica etc. for weeks a time with his buddies. Looks blissful.

SOJO said...

I'd also say the above "kid bored with travel" paradigm runs parallel to the foodie craze.

The parents traveled and were impressed, brought a lot of what impressed them back here, raised their kids with all of it, and now it's more mundane.

n.n said...

Is there a Generation 'V' (virtual)? It may also explain the unprecedented mass accumulation. It does explain the lopsided distribution of entitlements, which has caused America to tilt Left (i.e. select minority preference through socialized risk).

Eric said...

When I was in high school, gas was a dollar a gallon.

Same here. But I only made $3.35/hr.

Eric said...

In my state you can't drive anyone under 18 until you're 18. A car has a certain amount of utility, but for a teenager it's a social asset. An asset which has no value if you can't take your friends to the game or your girlfriend to the movies.

When I turned 16 I had no interest in getting my license (having no money for a car), but my parents forced me to get one so I could chauffeur my siblings to soccer and gymnastics.

Renee said...

This is why the pregnancy rate is down.

ricpic said...

A high percentage of the young, their eyes glued to a screen, barely acknowledge the great there out there. So why travel to get to another nowhere there?

SOJO said...

Driving less: parents are also much more guarded about kids driving. They know from age 9 that they might not get their license at 16. There are also new laws that you can't drive underage people around until you are 18 or 21 or something. That's in CA. A lot of the freedom has been regulated out anyway. Don't forget car seats until age 8 or 9.

My niece went to Hannah Montana, $1000 tickets, in full tarted out pop star regalia - strapped into IN A CAR SEAT at age 9 because she was small.

Can you imagine a better example of the current infantilism meets hypersexualized preteen?

Sam L. said...

Interests. My son wasn't interested in driving. My daughter couldn't wait for it.

Eric said...

The parents traveled and were impressed, brought a lot of what impressed them back here, raised their kids with all of it, and now it's more mundane.

The other part of that is tourist-y areas are so well documented on the web you've already had 70% of the experience before you get there.

In the process of planning a Japan trip I ran across a site that was a "virtual tour of Hiroshima". It was really well done - you could see all the buildings and monuments from different angles, and like Google's street view you could navigate the ground zero areas just as if you were there.

One thing I noticed was anything you might like to see is surrounded by low fences (presumably to keep people from disturbing the artifacts). It was difficult to imagine taking in the exact same scene in person from the same angle and distance in person would be much of an improvement. So I took it off my destination list.

Almost Ali said...

Sameness. Show me an exit that's different from any other exit, and I'll go there.

It's also damn expensive. I'm not going to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to eat at another McDonald's or sleep in another Holiday Inn. Especially since the up-tick in bedbugs. And another thing, KFC changed their recipe; I estimate that they're down to 3 “herbs & spices” from the original "11". Cheap bastards. Last time I was in Cracker Barrel, the vegetables came straight out of a can. God only knows where the meat comes from.

Making traveling is a distasteful hassle.

Jay said...

Interesting that nobody has mentioned what a crappy, absolutely horrific, experience flying is in today's world.

MPH said...

Most of the country looks the same nowadays.

ken in sc said...

I was in the Air Force in 1971 before I met anyone over 16 who couldn't drive. They were both from New Jersey, husband and wife. I taught them both how to drive well enough to pass the North Carolina driver's test.

The husband was a terrible driver. He once pulled his tubeless tires off the front rims on a sharp curve. He called me in the middle of the night to come give him a ride home.

MarkD said...

Two career families, underwater housing, and the generally poor economy are all factors.