Fact #761: January 7, 2013 Smaller Share of Teenagers Have a Driver's License in 2010

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In the 1980's, more than half of all teenagers 15 to 19 years old had a driver's license. But that has changed. Since 1995, less than half of that age group has a driver's license. In 2010, the latest year for which data are available, only 45.3% of 15 to 19 year-olds had a license. There are many different reasons that this has happened. Some states have placed more stringent requirements on those applying for a license. For example, the State of Tennessee requires anyone less than 18 years of age to provide proof that they are currently attending school in order to obtain a driver's license. Among other reasons, the connectivity of the Internet may give teens less of an incentive to pursue a license, or the high costs of operating a vehicle may be prohibitive, thus obtaining a license is delayed.

Share of 15 to 19 Year-Olds with Driver's Licenses, 1980-2010
Line graph showing the percent of teen drivers for each year from 1980 to 2010. See table below for more detailed information.

 

Supporting Information

Number of Licensed Drivers, 15-19 Year Olds
Year Number of Licensed Drivers 19 Years Old and Under U.S. Population of
15-19 Year-Olds
Drivers as a Percent of Age Group
1980 11,496,000 21,168,000 54.3%
1981 11,215,000 20,541,000 54.6%
1982 10,993,000 19,962,000 55.1%
1983 11,280,000 19,388,000 58.2%
1984 10,366,000 18,931,000 54.8%
1985 10,011,000 18,727,000 53.5%
1986 9,920,751 18,813,000 52.7%
1987 10,034,302 18,698,000 53.7%
1988 9,964,531 18,496,000 53.9%
1989 9,674,286 18,133,000 53.4%
1990 9,249,046 17,893,000 51.7%
1991 8,813,928 17,270,000 51.0%
1992 8,749,553 17,246,000 50.7%
1993 8,781,080 17,474,000 50.3%
1994 8,948,793 17,876,000 50.1%
1995 9,124,125 18,374,000 49.7%
1996 9,234,000 18,920,000 48.8%
1997 9,626,945 19,398,000 49.6%
1998 9,782,763 19,840,000 49.3%
1999 9,610,142 20,085,000 47.8%
2000 9,743,519 20,219,000 48.2%
2001 9,420,642 20,262,000 46.5%
2002 9,298,258 20,348,000 45.7%
2003 9,263,217 20,446,000 45.3%
2004 9,333,086 20,677,000 45.1%
2005 9,337,290 20,994,000 44.5%
2006 9,727,516 21,246,000 45.8%
2007 9,920,174 21,446,000 46.3%
2008 9,953,935 21,514,000 46.3%
2009 9,932,441 21,538,000 46.1%
2010 9,556,240 21,086,000 45.3%
Sources:
Licensed Drivers - U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2010, Washington, D.C., September 2011, Table DL-20 and annual. Population - Bureau of the Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States.

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