majority of today's teenagers delay getting a driver's license, according to
new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Nationally, less than half
(44 percent) of teens obtain a driver's license within 12 months of the minimum
age for licensing and just over half (54 percent) are licensed before their
18th birthday, causing concern among safety experts that young adult drivers
are missing the benefits intended by graduated
drivers licensing (GDL).
These findings mark a significant drop from two
decades ago when data showed more than two-thirds of teens were licensed by the
time they turned 18.
many teens waiting until age 18 to get their license, we are concerned that
young adults are increasingly getting licensed without the benefit of parental
supervision and professional in-car training," said AAA Corporate Public
Affairs Manager, Cheryl Parker.
to some expectations, survey results suggest that few teens wait until 18
simply to avoid GDL requirements. Instead, a number of other reasons for
delaying licensure were cited, including:
44 percent – Did not have a car
39 percent – Could get around without driving
36 percent – Gas was too expensive
36 percent – Driving was too expensive
35 percent – "Just didn't get around to it"
and minority teens are the least likely to obtain a driver's license before age
18. Only 25 percent of teens living in households with incomes less than
$20,000 obtained their license before they turned 18, while 79 percent of teens
were licensed by their 18th birthday in households with incomes of $100,000 or
The findings for licensure by age 18 differed significantly by race and
ethnicity, with 67 percent for non-Hispanic white teens, 37 percent for
non-Hispanic black teens, and 29 percent for Hispanic teens.
researchers surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 1,039 respondents
ages 18-20. The full research report and survey results can be found on the AAA
Foundation for Traffic Safety website.