Stop Driving Teens Everywhere And They'll Get A License

The University of Michigan talked to 600 young adults about why they haven't gotten their driver's licenses. Some say can't be bothered. Some have other ways to get around.

The survey shows that the top reason these teens didn't get their license was that they were too busy, or they didn't have enough time. Presumably, that's both for driver's ed, and for the actual time it takes to prepare for the driving test and go to the DMV.

Another big group says that owning and maintaining a car is too expensive, and we know that's true. Once you buy a car, you still have to shell out for insurance, gas, parking, and whatever it costs to fix the bumper when you miscalculate getting past the tree next to the driveway.

But 31 percent said that they didn't get their license because they had someone else to drive that. You've heard about helicopter parents, right? The ones that step in to do everything for their kids?

I've heard of parents who don't want their kids to get licenses because the roads are scary. They also don't want them to be distracted from studying to get into Harvard or playing sports. "I'll take you," is probably a phrase heard in every suburban household in America.

So: how to get more teens to get licenses? Simple. Insist they carve out the time for driver's ed, grit your teeth, and let them drive once in a while. Allow them to drive on the highway when the traffic isn't too heavy — or what the heck, maybe when it is. That's the best way to learn. You have airbags, after all.

I'm the first person to say that not everyone likes to drive. I didn't, and while I got my license at 16, I barely drove afterward. I got a ride from my mom, and I rode with friends, and I walked to class.

My mom tried to get me interested in driving. She took me out every night after she got home from work, and we drove for about a square mile in our neighborhood. It just didn't take.

But then I got a summer job, in the opposite direction from her office. I had to ride a bus every day for 30 minutes each way. I didn't mind until it got hot, and all my primping efforts were ruined by the time I got to work.

The solution came when my mom took a vacation. She left the car keys where I could see them, and said, "If you use a lot of gas, fill up the car."

One morning, I just decided I'd drive to work by myself. That did it. Someone trusted me, and I had confidence in myself. I've never had a second thought about driving since then.

Did your folks drive you places? Are they still doing so? If you don't have a license, what will it take for you to go get one?