More Teens Waiting to Get Driver's Licenses

The percentage of teens with a driver's license has fallen significantly over the past few decades, and experts suspect there's no one explanation for the shift. Instead, they cite a host of reasons, including everything from high gas and insurance prices to more of a willingness to let Mom and Dad drive you around.

"The numbers suggest that fewer teens are wanting to drive," said Karl Brauer, senior director of insights at Kelley Blue Book.

About 28 percent of 16-year-olds had their driver's license in 2010, compared with about 46 percent of 16-year-olds who were licensed drivers in 1983, according to an analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration and the Census Bureau data compiled by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan.

Those numbers go up as teens get older, but today's older teens are still less likely to be driving than the teens of the 1980s, according to the University of Michigan analysis. About 70 percent of 19-year-olds had their license in 2010, according to the University of Michigan analysis, compared with 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983.

One big potential culprit: Cost. Anyone who's filled their tank lately knows that it takes more than pocket change to drive around, and that's not even including insurance and other maintenance. A recent study from found that adding a teenage driver to the family car insurance policy can double annual premiums in some states.

Image: Teenage driver, via Shutterstock


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