To drive or not to drive …

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Here’s an interesting question with apparently two very different answers: does the “Millennial Generation” still want to drive vehicles or not? Well the answer is apparently both yes and no, if the results of two recent studies are to be believed.

And before you dispatch this issue out of hand, consider this: if fewer young folk desire to even drive cars nowadays, it might be even more difficult to imagine them wanting to drive heavy duty trucks for a living. That doesn’t bode well for the truck driver shortage it goes without saying (though I of course just said it.)

So let’s look at the affirmative case first. According to a recent research study by MTV – yes, THAT MTV – entitled Millennials Have Drive, there’s been an increase in “young people’s passion” for cars and car ownership with 3 in 4 young people agreeing they would rather give up social media for a day than their car and 72% agreeing they would rather give up texting for a week than their car.

The company fielded this study back in the spring of 2014 and canvassed 3,610 Millennials aged 18 to 34, as well as 400 “Gen Xers” and 403 “Baby Boomers” as part of its overall research.

“The insights gleaned from this first auto study show a generation that emphasizes car ownership and the critical role it plays in their day-to-day lives,” noted Berj Kazanjian, senior VP-ad sales research for MTV. “Millennials, like other generations, see car ownership as a way to establish independence, but Millennials also see car ownership as a way to craft their unique adult identity.”

MTV’s findings indicate that 8 in 10 Millennials get around most often by car as opposed to any other form of transportation – which the company, a division of Viacom, said is in “stark contrast” to studies in recent years that indicate driving is on the decline among young people.

Here’s the catch to all that though: another study, this one conducted in October last year by the Ohio Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) and dubbed Millennials in Motion, found the EXACT OPPOSITE occurring where “Generation Y” and vehicle operation is concerned.

That study found the average amount of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds decreased by 23% between 2001 and 2009 because of fewer trips and more diverse transportation options.

On top of that, OPIRG analyzed data from the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety and found the percentage of high-school seniors who have a driver’s license dropped to 73% from 85% between 1996 and 2010 – with federal data suggesting that decline has continued apace over the last 5 years.

“Many factors might have influenced the observed trend of millennials favoring alternative transportation to driving,” OPIRG noted. “That includes socioeconomic shifts, lifestyle preferences, and changing technology and transportation options, some of which have become more easily accessible and more user-friendly for the people who use them.”

So … do Millennials want to drive vehicle or not? Answering what one would think is a simple question may turn out to be a lot harder to determine than many may realize.

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