Once a rite of passage to freedom and independence, obtaining a driver’s license at age 16 was considered a general milestone. However, data compiled by the Federal Highway Department is indicating that Gen Zers are not feeling the same way about obtaining a driver’s license. Those individuals born between the years 1996-2012 have begun to shy away from getting their licenses and even opting to divert reliance on cars entirely. Statistics have shown that the trend is rather significant.
According to the Washington Post, in 1997 43% of 16 year olds, and 42% of 17 year olds had their licenses. In contrast, by 2021, only 25% of 16 year olds, and 42% of 17 year olds had driver’s licenses.
Some of the reasons that members of Gen Z give for not earning their driver’s licenses is: the cost of insurance, anxiety about accidents, concerns about the environment and climate, satisfaction with public transportation, and the emergence of ride-sharing apps. Many Gen Zers are ambivalent about American car-centric culture and the effects this has on the environment.
They are not wrong in their concerns. If this trend of less drivers on the road continues, America may see a substantial drop in carbon emissions.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected many industries, and whether new or used, the car market inflated to astronomical highs. Car sales, insurance, and public policy will have to be modified accordingly. It’s also important to mention that city versus rural life is very different, in terms of public transportation and walkability.
Depending on where people live, public transportation may not be as readily available nor are supermarkets, laundromats, hospitals, etc. So, while it may be true that many Gen Zers are forgoing their licenses and the purchase of cars, it’s probably more true for individuals in urban areas. Things like age and ability also must be taken into account.
A new approach to insurance
Studies also have shown that Gen Zers trust and want advice about insurance from professional independent agents. So, those in the insurance industry need to take this growing trend into consideration when engaging with Gen Zers about their insurance needs.
Remember, Gen Zers appreciate individuality, flexibility, ethics, and transparency, so keep these values in mind during your conversations with individuals from this generation.