Percentage of teenage drivers plummets

Only 26% of 16-year-olds have a driver's license.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 6:54 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - There are few moments more exciting for a teenager than turning 16 and getting a driver’s license.

At least, that’s how it used to be.

Ned Simmons has owned Big C’s Driver’s Ed for eight years and has been at the forefront of that change.

“It’s dropped drastically,” Simmons said.

It’s a nationwide trend. Fewer and fewer teens are driving.

The stats will make you hit the brakes. According to the National Highway Administration, just 26% of 16-year-olds have their license, a nearly 50% drop from 1980.

The numbers improve only slightly with age. Just 60% of 18-year-olds have their driver’s license.

“It just seems like there is less of ‘want to’ to get out there and get their driver’s license,” Simmons said.

Some of that has to do with the internet and the ability to ‘hang out’ without ever leaving home.

It also has to do with what teens see as an increasingly dangerous activity.

“I don’t like driving with all the semis around here,” said CBS7 digital producer Micah Allen.

Allen didn’t get her license until she turned 18. Even now, she doesn’t drive, because she doesn’t need to.

“I get my groceries through Instacart, and I don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store,” she said. “I Uber to work every day, and I’ve never had a problem getting an Uber.”

Simmons sees that as a natural progression. With all the accidents and road rage incidents happening, why risk it?

“If everyone stopped being in a rush, we would be much better off,” he said.

There are still teens who are excited about driving, and nearly everyone eventually does get a license. But in a world of convenience, more and more teens are choosing to stay off the road altogether.