Years ago, most teenagers were counting down the days until their 16th birthdays, when they could celebrate with their very first driver’s license. However, a new trend is emerging in Florida and across the U.S. A growing number of teens are waiting, sometimes years after becoming eligible, to get their driver’s licenses. Statewide over the last 20 years, the total number of teenage drivers in Florida has fallen by nearly 15%.
As David Damron of the Orlando Sentinel reports in his article “Many Florida teens put the brakes on getting drivers licenses,” the number of licensed drivers in Central Florida ages 15 to 17 fell from 44,182 in 1995 to 38,749 in 2013. This happened at the same time that the overall population actually grew.
A study last year by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 44% of teens got a driver’s license within a year of turning the legal age, down from about two-thirds of teens who got one within a year, just two decades ago. A similar study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that in1983, 80% of 18-year-olds had a driver’s license. That had dropped to 65 % by 2005 and to 61% in 2010.
The question is: what is driving the trend? Experts suggest that a variety of factors could be influencing these numbers; everything from the economic downturn and increased regulations and driver’s education requirements, to shifting priorities among the younger crowd and new ways of connecting with friends online and socially, instead of driving to hangouts.
Teens – Are you planning to get your driver’s license as soon as possible? Parents – Are you encouraging your teens to obtain their licenses right away, or advising them to wait?
- Many Florida Teens Put the Brakes on Getting Drivers Licenses – Orlando Sentinel
- Driving Forces: Fewer Young, But More Elderly Have Driver’s Licenses – UMTRI Research Review