The number of Timaru teens who hold driver's licences has dropped by a third in the last five years.
In 2008 there were 1886 teenagers with their class 1 licence, compared with 1215 this year.
Nationally the number has declined by 30 per cent; in comparison Timaru's figures show a 36 per cent slump.
It is a pattern that is common in many developed nations, including Britain, Germany, Japan, and Australia.
The general manager of the Automobile Association of New Zealand's AA Driving School, Nigel Clark, said there were a number of factors at play in the reduction.
"The age limit changed from 15 to 16 for getting a learner's licence in 2011, and the standards for the restricted test changed in February last year. But those two things aside, there have been other contributing factors," Mr Clark said.
"The rise of internet usage has correlated with fewer driver licensing numbers. People don't have to leave home to do a lot of the things they once did.
"Most teenagers have smartphones. They don't have to go out and see their friends anymore. When I was young if I wanted to see a friend I had to physically go to their house, and that's not the case now.
"Youngsters are also staying at home for longer, and can usually rely on mum or dad to take them places.
"Owning a vehicle is more costly than ever these days. By the time you buy fuel, have your car registered and insured, warrant of fitness, and the cost of the car itself - it gets quite expensive."
Mr Clark said it was an interesting phenomenon, and he was not sure what was going to happen in future.
"Perhaps numbers will keep diving, or they'll level out. Who knows?" he said.
Timaru driving instructor Ivan Beswarick has been in the trade for 45 years. He said when he first started he would work 12 hours a day and there was a waiting list of pupils.
"Now we have two to three lessons a day on average. It's a lot quieter than it used to be," he said.
Neville Cross from Advance Driver Training said it had certainly become quieter.
"People are aware that the test is harder. Also the age going up to 16 - I'm quite happy with that. I always thought 15 was too young," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News