Luckily, no one was hurt. But the memory is one that still haunts, particularly now that my own daughter is just three years away from scoring her own free pass to the open road. I felt a little better, then, when the New York Times reported the other day that more teens are now bypassing the DMV and instead using apps like Uber and Lyft to get around.
According to the Times, a recent study done by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that the number of 16-year-olds with a driver’s license in the U.S. fell to 28 percent in 2010, from 46 percent in 1983. And one of the reasons, Brandon Schoettle (an author of the study) says in the piece, is the invention of car service apps. “Having the convenience of Lyft and Uber probably outweighs the money and cost of owning a vehicle,” he said. “The cellphone also makes it so much more convenient to get a ride from a friend or taxi service.”
I know, I know. There’s been much debate over the idea of kids using Uber. Still, I am totally down with this trend, if only for the safety benefits alone. According to a recent report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 6 out of 10 car accidents involving teenagers were a result of distracted driving. And while around 40 percent of teen drivers are smart enough to know that texting while driving is a bad idea, according to another study reported by NPR, that same group of teens has no problem changing clothes, putting in contact lenses, putting on makeup and doing homework while sitting in the driver’s seat.
Wait, what? I’m all for plate juggling, but if my kid wants to hand the wheel over to an Uber driver so she can do her homework and change her clothes en route without risking her life, I’d be totally fine with that.
And if she wants to do those things before ever leaving the house, I’d be totally fine with that too.