When I was a kid getting your driver’s license was a rite of passage. It meant freedom to go where you wanted, when you wanted without needing to rely on your parents or older sibling to take you someplace.

Every friend I had was counting the days until they could apply for their learner’s permit, take the driving exam and hit the open road on their own. But as times change so do the ways we live in them. This might account for the sudden surge not in new drivers, but in the number of teenagers who choose not get a driver’s license at all.

That’s right, a new study released by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group the average number of miles driven by people younger than 35 fell by almost 25 percent. Data kept by the Arizona Department of Transportation shows that since 2008, while the population of teenagers grew, the number with driver’s licenses actually got smaller.

Most of these young people are choosing to walk or ride their bikes, well into their college years. Where light rail and public transportation is available they are using that. In essence, they are eschewing getting a driver’s license because they don’t want the added expense of owning a car; facing high fuel prices at the pumps and the high costs of maintaining their automobiles.

If this trend continues into adulthood for these teens the incidence of highway congestion and vehicle crashes will naturally decline, but also, the U.S. auto industry could be facing a major problem.