Fewer teens getting their first car

Fewer teens getting their first car

Work hard all summer, save up and buy your first car. Generations of teens have followed that formula to gain the freedom that comes from getting behind the wheel. But in this recession-troubled year, the ranks of new teen motorists appears to be shrinking dramatically.

Sarah Marron, 18, braves the packed Department of Motor Vehicles in Colorado Springs, Colo., to get her license. It might be that they’re busier, more apprehensive about driving, lack money for insurance and gas or hindered by tougher restrictions on teens, but the number of 16 and 17-year-olds with licenses has gradually declined over the last several years, according to state data.

Five years ago, 7.5 million used cars were sold for use by teenagers. This year, the market has shrunk to 4.2 million, according to CNW Research. It’s not just because fewer used cars are being sold overall: In 2005, 17.4% of used cars were destined for teens. Now it’s 10.9%.

“Reflecting the jobs market, there has been a serious decline in the number of teens who make a full payment for their vehicle to parents — down from 21% to 16% while parents are paying the full price in 44% of the cases vs. 43.5%,” CNW states. More than 27% of teens haven’t worked part or full time in the last 12 months, more than double the teen unemployment figure of 2005.

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