Is American car culture changing due to the different preferences of younger adults?

Americans like driving and have woven it in to many aspects of life. However, younger adults are driving less:

Photo by Peter Fazekas on

Gen Zers point to many reasons they are turning their backs on cars: anxiety, finances, environmental concern.Many members of Gen Z say they haven’t gotten licensed because they’re afraid of getting into accidents or of driving itself. Madison Morgan, a 23-year-old from Kennewick, Wash., had multiple high school classmates pass away in driving accidents. Those memories loomed over her whenever she was behind the wheel…

Others point to driving’s high cost. Car insurance has skyrocketed in price in recent years, increasing nearly 14 percent between 2022 and 2023. (The average American now spends around 3 percent of their yearly income on car insurance.) Used and new car prices have also soared in the last few years, thanks to a combination of supply chain disruptions and high inflation…

E-scooters, e-bikes and ride-sharing also provideGen Zers optionsthat weren’t available to earlier generations. (Half of ride-sharing users are between the ages of 18 and 29, according to a poll from 2019.) And Gen Zers have the ability to do things online — hang out with friends, take classes, play games — which used to be available only in person…

But, he added, data has shown that U.S. car culture isn’t as strong as it once was. “Up through the baby boom generation, every generation drove more than the last,” Dutzik said. Forecasters expected that trend to continue, with driving continuing to skyrocket well into the 2030s. “But what we saw with millennials, I think very clearly, is that trend stopped,” Dutzik said.

Is less need for driving causing this or is driving viewed as less enjoyable and even reprehensible (climate change concerns)?

While per capita driving has plateaued, have other driving activities increased driving and traffic? For example, the number of deliveries from Amazon and similar companies did not exist in the same way nor did ride-sharing. Younger adults are driving less than older Americans but the world today depends on driving more than ever?

The last paragraph of the article emphasizes how planning could change based on less interest for driving. It would be interesting to see how planners and others work with both populations – younger Americans who do not drive as much and older Americans who drive a lot – to reach possible solutions.

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