This morning as I was driving back from leaving my 21-year-old daughter off at a light rail station -- she usually walks to a station a couple blocks away, but since she was spending the weekend with friends and had bags, I gave her a ride to the less congested Chinatown station -- I heard a report on NPR on the changing car culture in the U.S. This first of the series talked about the differences between Boomer teens and Millenial teens when it comes autos. In sum: Millennials drive less, get their licenses later and wait longer to buy their first car.
That sounds just like my
daughter and her friends. Of her three tightest girlfriends, only one
drives (or even has a license), the rest use public transportation
(which has greatly improved in L.A.), walk, or get rides from the friend
with the car, their parents, or other friends. Or just stay home. Plans
are often dashed if rides fall through. That's a big difference from my
generation. I started driving at 14 at got my first car at 17, and my
first batch of Gen X kids, who couldn't wait to get behind the wheel.
The story goes on to report that cars serve a different purpose for
Millennials: a means to get to destinations and events that can be
shared (Instagrammed, Facebooked), which is more important then what
having a car meant for me. For me, driving was the freedom to go to new
places with friends, share the experience among ourselves, then move on
to the next experience.
Those journeys were usually not
planned; we jumped in the car and went where the road lead us. Most
often the drive itself was the destination. Even now, my wife and I will
get in the car and just drive to familiar or new places and listen to
the radio, stop to check out the scenery, pop into an interesting
looking place, hang a while, get back in the car and wind our way home.
Of course, the price of gas is kind of changing that.