The truth might be a little of this, a little of that, and even some of the other. That’s the takeaway from a new analysis of Millennial driving habits from transport scholar Noreen McDonald of the University of North Carolina. Writing in the Journal of the American Planning Association, McDonald attributes 10 to 25 percent of the driving decline to changing demographics, 35 to 50 percent to attitudes, and another 40 percent to the general downward shift in U.S. driving habits…
What makes McDonald’s work especially useful and compelling is that she compared the travel patterns of Millennials (born between 1979 and 1990, by her definition) with those of Generation X (born 1967-1978) at the same age. So she looked at driving data (both trips and miles) from tens of thousands of individuals in 1995, 2001, and 2009 alike.
But, it isn’t just that Millennials are driving less – they are going fewer places overall.
This analysis provides evidence of a long-term decrease in automobility that started in the late 1990s with younger members of Gen X and has continued with the Millennial generation. The decrease in driving has not been accompanied by an increase in other modes of travel or a decline in average trip length, meaning that younger Americans are increasingly going fewer places.
Those smartphones are media gadgets are pretty compelling and make accessing the rest of the world easier. Perhaps there is less need to wander and display independence by leaving the house. Maybe all those fears about crime out there have crept in for a whole generation.
If local mobility is reduced, does this mean this newer generation of Americans will have less geographic mobility within the United States (fewer moves or significant moves throughout their lives)?