Growth in "vehicle-miles travelled will slow dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says in its new Annual Energy Outlook. The EIA slashed its projected annual VMT growth rate to 0.9 percent, a drop of 25 percent compared to its forecast only a year ago.
The change is partly due to slower population growth, but also because of a generational shift confirmed by at least four studies in the past year. In the United States, young people are not only driving less than teens did a generation ago, they aren't even getting licenses. Researchers at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have worked out that the percentage of young drivers is related to the proportion of Internet users. The idea is that Social media may be taking the place of cars in kids’ lives.
Seven countries, including Canada, South Korea, Germany, and Japan, are seeing similar shifts in the demographics of licensed drivers. In the United States, the Michigan team found that the percentage of 19-year-olds with driver's licenses fell from 87 percent to 70 percent between 1983 and 2010. For 17-year-olds, the fall was even more dramatic, from 69 percent in 1983 to 46 percent by 2010.