The Toronto Star ran this hoary bit of nonsense up the pole again in today's paper; young drivers aren't driving anymore, because they simply prefer their smart-phones to the hassle of getting a drivers licence.
This has been a popular bit of common wisdom for a couple of years now, since a group of social scientists come market researchers doing a study funded by the smartphone industry had the bright idea of presenting the impoverishment of young people as a happy story.
Yes, teens are turning away from driving because they love public transit. They are concerned about the environment, they're proactive and want to personally do their share to stop global warming. They are internet savvy the way previous generations weren't, and therefore would rather spend their fifteen minute drive to school sitting on a bus for 90 minutes, texting their research team about the latest developments in their collaborative science project, which shows great promise in finding a cure for cancer.
Next time you're driving around a decent sized city anywhere in North America, try this little exercise. Find the high school in the plush part of town where the rich white and oriental kids attend. Check out the student parking lot. By golly, if it ain't just as plumb-full of Beemers and Audis and Escalades as it would have been forty years ago!
And guess what? The rich kids have smart-phones too!
There have always been affluent high-density neighborhoods where it didn't make sense to own a car. Manhattan, for example. But these bullshit stories about young people "choosing" smartphones over cars, texting over driving, are just that; bullshit!
Young people don't drive because they can't afford to. This has nothing to do with the ascendancy of the internet or the rise of their environmental awareness.
It has everything to do with the fact that regular working folks can't afford the things they could afford a generation ago.
We're not getting smarter.
We're just getting poorer.