Article > Editor’s Note

Younger People Prefer Smartphones Over Cars?

By Mark Phillips

It used to be that to stay in touch with friends, teens would drive somewhere to interact with their friends. In-person.
Mark Phillips
It used to be, fairly recently, that parents or anyone else on the road were worried about teens texting while driving.

Now, the latest worry has to do with teens and driving and smartphones, but it has nothing to do with driving off the road while texting. A recent Gartner research study says a good number of teens and twentysomethings prefer smartphones over cars. As in, they’d rather have a smartphone than access to a car. The apparent reason? A smartphone gives them access to all their friends and the information they crave without the “annoyance” of having to drive somewhere, because, well, driving would get in the way of using a smartphone.

“The study found 46 percent of young adults aged 18 to 24 prefer access to the Internet over access to their own car, and that teens drive less overall today than they did in past generations,” reports Forbes, citing the Gartner study, for which the full results have yet to be released.

Only 15 percent of baby boomers said they would choose a mobile device over an automobile, Forbes reported.

It used to be that to stay in touch with friends, teens would drive somewhere to interact with their friends. In-person.

But with any number of social networks available on a smartphone, the idea of getting into a vehicle and driving somewhere apparently seems quaint.

Is the sky falling? Not yet. It probably won’t, but there’s probably reason for the automotive industry to at least be a little concerned. If miles driven are the ultimate yardstick by which we measure business health for the aftermarket, having a significant number of younger people look at automobiles as a curious relic of the past probably isn’t a good development.

Add to this the number of people who buy things like Christmas presents online, and you see another cause for the reason miles driven are getting pelted. Clearly, there are societal changes taking place right now that could put in jeopardy the whole need for a car in the first place. What if, for example, a significant number of employers wanted to reduce their office space costs by allowing workers to telecommute? What if it was 5 percent of employers? 10 percent? Think that’s a not possible? The Chicago Tribune notes that 33,000 people, or about 40 percent of insurer Aetna’s workforce, telecommutes.

Government? As the Tribune points out, 6,500 of the roughly 10,000 employees of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office telecommute. At the end of last year, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, a way for federal agencies to move to even more telecommuting.

I vote teens put down those smartphones and get behind the wheel!

This month’s issue features a story on Todd Carpenter, recipient of the 2011 Counter Professional of the Year award, sponsored by Affinia, WIX and Raybestos brake and chassis.

After you’re done reading about Todd and his accomplishments, be sure to go to to submit your own nomination or nominate someone else for the 2012 award. We’re taking submissions now until the July 8, 2012, deadline.

In addition to industry-wide recognition for a job well done, the 2012 Counter Professional of the Year and a guest will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas (first week of November) for the Aftermarket’s largest trade show, AAIW, including three nights at one of Las Vegas’ top hotel-casinos. Nominees must be ASE certified.

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