The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation has recently released driver age data that seems to indicate a steep decline in teenage drivers throughout the years. In about 35 years, the number of minor motorists with driver’s licenses plummeted by nearly 50%.
Percentage of drivers sorted by age group and year according to FHA data:
- Age group: 16
- 1983: 46.2%
- 2008: 31.1%
- 2018: 25.6%
- Age group: 18
- 1983: 80.4%
- 2008: 65.4%
- 2018: 60.9%
- Age group: 20 to 24
- 1983: 91.8%
- 2008: 82.0%
- 2018: 80.1%
- Age group: 35 to 39
- 1983: 94.9%
- 2008: 91.7%
- 2018: 90.9%
According to this data, about one-in-two of all 16-year-old teens in America had a driver’s license in 1983. Jump forward to 2018 and only one-in-four have a driver’s license.
What is Causing the Drop in Teenage Drivers?
America is certainly a car culture – or a motorcycle culture in some places. It can be difficult to find a job, attend higher education, and just get around town in most corners of the country without a motor vehicle and driver’s license. If being legally allowed to drive a car is so important, then why are so many fewer teens going through the DMV process to get a license?
There are a few theories as to why teens are less likely to drive today:
- Economic hardship: When wondering why a popular trend fades away, a good statistical starting point is to examine the economy as a whole. Families today need to be careful where they spend their income, more so than in the early 80s. Spending money to get a car for a 16-year-old teen is simply not possible for many families, so the drop in young drivers is not entirely surprising. The data regarding the other age groups also support this theory. Adult drivers between the ages of 35 and 39 dropped 4%, which is a significant number when considering how many adult drivers there are and how many of them really need an automobile in their day-to-day lives.
- Ridesharing: Teenagers might also be putting “get a driver’s license” on the backburner because of the advent of ridesharing apps. For only a few dollars, groups of teens can get rides to and from popular hangouts, like the mall or a concert. The cost split among them all makes using ridesharing even more affordable. Rather than going through the trouble to get a car and license without much necessity for either, teens have the choice to wait a bit longer without sacrificing mobility.
- Stricter regulations: The laws regulating drivers have increased in strictness across the decades, especially when considering younger drivers. For example, teens today need to worry about getting ticketed or losing their driver’s license just for looking at their cellphone while behind the wheel, a problem that wasn’t even fathomable in 1983. A teen who could get a car and driver’s license might decide against it simply to avoid the stresses driving laws until they absolutely need a vehicle.
(You can learn more about the FHA research and data by clicking here and viewing an article from Statista.)
Hit by a Teen Driver? Call an Attorney
While 25.6% of teenagers don’t seem like a lot of teenage drivers on the surface, it is actually several million motorists. Teens have less knowledge about the rules of the road, understand less about how to control a vehicle in an emergency situation, and tend to be more distracted by smartphones when compared to older drivers. In other words, teenage drivers can inadvertently be a hazard on the road due to their young age and lack of experience.
If you get hit by a teenage driver, you should treat the car accident or motorcycle accident as you would any other crash. Collect contact information and evidence of liability before calling an attorney and seeing the doctor. You should not “go easy” on a teen driver because they did not know any better, as they may plead with you to do. A big part of being a driver on shared roadways is learning how to drive safely and responsibly. By bringing a claim against the teen drive that caused your accident, you could be teaching them an important lesson that encourages them to become a better, safer driver.
Need a car accident or motorcycle accident lawyer for your case in Clearwater, Florida? Call (727) 784-8191 to connect with The Fran Haasch Law Group. We offer free case evaluations to inquiring clients.