Lincoln Life: Delayed Driving

In this Lincoln Life, we take a closer look at why teens are taking it slow when it comes to getting their driver's license.

Sam Abbott just turned 16 in July. And he's in no hurry to get a driver's license, or even his learner's permit.

He lives in Waverly, and finds rides from school to home and to activities. It might be his mom, brother or 16-year-old girlfriend who give him a lift.

Sam says that it's kind of expensive to have a car and keep it up.

But Sam's mom, Cyndi, doesn't understand Sam's lack of interest.

"I would think at 16 you would want the freedom to go where you want to, and he doesn't seem to care. It doesn't seem to bother him," said Cyndi.

Laurie Klosterboer with the Nebraska Safety Council says she's not surprised.

"You know it is a trend. We are seeing that in our program that we have. And I think it's because the kids are so connected with their phones. And they are not interested in driving. We have kids that come to us that the parents really want them to learn to drive and it's not important to them."

The number of high school seniors in the U.S. who have a driver's license dropped from 85.3 percent in 1996 to a record low of 71.5 percent in 2015, according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future survey.

Laurie says, "I don't know if it's a problem. In some ways it's good because the older they are, they're getting more mature. Those things, they're all positive."

Laurie says she's had students sign up for the driver's ed course who are 17 or even 18 years old. So, in that sense, if Sam continues to wait on his permit, he may be more prepared.

Once you get that learner's permit at the DMV, you have to log 50 hours of supervised driving or take a certified driver's ed course for around $350 to get a full driver's license in Nebraska.

Laurie says, "What we recommend is that students take a certified driver's education program, but also that the parents are doing the behind the wheel. Even if the parent sends him to a certified program, parents are integral to their students learning to drive because of the practice that they need."

Sam's mom is just hoping that he'll come around...and decide to get his license soon.

"You know winter is coming. Hopefully he won't want to walk anymore and will want to drive," said Cyndi.

There are many reasons kids may delay driving... like being busy with activities, the hassle of finding time for driver's ed or locking down parents' time to get those 50 hours logged.

Many kids may have friends who are fellow gamers and can talk online.

Lots of parents have been weighing in about this on Facebook:

Sandy Nyquist says, "My second boy said at age 15 he was not ready to have the responsibility. He just turned 16 and just got his learner's permit. Still has not sat behind the wheel!"

Kelli Anderson writes, "Kaia had no desire to drive at first, and we didn't push it. She got her permit at 16 and license at 17. I think she just needed time to feel ready. Now she's a careful and attentive driver. Still doesn't have her own car though."