Shows like MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen make it seem like everyone gets their license and a brand new car once they finally reach that milestone age. In actuality, the vast majority of American teens won't get the shiny BMWs or Mercedes. In fact, a lot of 16-year-olds aren't even applying for a driver's license at all.
In California, the number of teens getting their license at 16 has continued to drop for the past decade. From 1998 until last year, the state saw a 38 percent decrease in the number of 16-year-old drivers, while the population of teens increased by 26 percent.
What's behind this trend keeping teens off the road? For starters, the economy. Gas doesn't come cheap, and then there's insurance for a young driver and regular car maintenance. Plus, school budget cuts have led to less driver's ed classes being offered.
Another factor that's unattractive for teen drivers is that many states enforce regulations that prevent them from having full driving privileges until they're 18.