Generation Y Driving Less and Sharing More


Americans have been driving less in recent years in the face of growing gas prices and financial difficulties. Studies have shown that the average American drove 6 miles less in 2011 than in 2004. Nowhere has this drop in driving been more apparent than in Generation Y.

A new study done by Zipcar shows that many Gen Y-ers, also known as Millennials (people between the ages of 18 and 34), are striving to drive less. Reuters reports that the average number of miles traveled in a personal vehicle for Generation-Y-aged people dropped 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.

What elements have propelled this shift in transportation habits? The advent of social media and technology have aided this quest for alternatives to car ownership. People can now connect with family members more readily without traveling to different locations and social media makes it easier to connect to public transport schedules.

Young people have also faced an unstable economy and often view personal vehicles as a burdensome and undesirable rite of passage which incurs monetary obligations.

Although money is not the only incentive for ditching the car, many young people have discovered the financial upsides to getting rid of a personal vehicle. Shareable quotes Paul Davis’ view on the matter: “For the price of a regular checkup and a couple months of insurance, you can get a smartphone, a transit card and a decent bike and ditch the headaches and the endless money drain that come with even a hybrid.”

Environmental concerns have also topped the reasons why young adults are searching for alternative transportation. While many people between the ages of 18 and 34 do not claim the environment as their top priority for driving less, it remains a central theme in discussions of car ownership.

That same Zipcar study showed that Generation Y-ers were the most likely to want to use media sharing programs, car sharing opportunities and even vacation sharing programs compared to people over the age of 35. In fact over half of Gen Y-ers said they were interested in car sharing programs compared to 10 percent of people polled over the age of 55.

While the amount Americans drive overall is down, Reuters points out that many older people are driving more. The University of Michigan conducted a study in which they found that people 70 and older make up 10 percent of drivers on the road, a formidable number.

Whether these numbers could change as Millennials grow older is yet to be seen. Overall, the results of these studies show that policy makers need to focus much more attention on shifting policies away from road construction and maintenance to public transit and transport sharing programs geared at a group of consumers open and excited about alternatives to independent car ownership.


Related Stories:

Are Millennials Less Green?

Are Millennials Blowing Their Money on Luxuries?

Overworked, Debt-Laden Gen X Opting for No Kids


Photo Credit: Osvaldo Gago


Terry V.
Terry V5 years ago

Thank you


Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

good news

Angie V.
Angie V5 years ago


Vicky Barman
Past Member 5 years ago

that's a very positive side of socializing, at least you can go for a car pooling.

Miranda Parkinson

A very hopeful generation. May others follow their fine example!

J.L. A.
j A5 years ago

and the GOP House threw them under the bus by stripping bike, pedestrian and public transport funding out of the transportation plan negotiated--a constituency I guess the GOP doesn't choose to represent?

Lori B.
Lori B5 years ago

I am 36, so I just missed the "Y" generation. We moved from our oversized house to a 2 bed apartment and sold one of our cars. Our complex offers bikes to use for free, but for a family of 4, I wish that there was a zip car station there as well. I use our car about 3 times a week for about an hour. I spend a ton of money to own a car to use it only 3 hours a week. I have a Vespa scooter, but I just can't carry both kids on it..... yet! You HAVE to learn how to adjust your life. I was never shown, but I am trying with all my might to raise both boys the right way!

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago has an on-line petition to Congress to dedicate a portion of long-term federal securities to financing mitigating global warming on its website. So those who want to invest in mitigating global warming but don't want to pick stocks and don't own a home to which they can add a solar power system, or can afford to invest only a $100 or so in mitigating global warming can have a place to go to invest $100 or more in mitigating global warming..

Dave C.
David C5 years ago

interesting....I find that in general as people age they are NOT as environmentally caring as they were when younger --- not a large survey, but see this very strongly in my extended family and many people we know through work and/or church....they drive bigger cars, drive when they use to walk, recycle less, use more plastics and shop for bargains (like Walmart) rather than buy local and sustainable.

Carole R.
Carole R5 years ago

Great! Thanks for the post.