Low-income and Latino Teens Delay Getting Driver’s License


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A trend by teens in delaying getting their licenses is causing concern among safety experts that young adult drivers may be missing the experience they would normally get with the graduated driver’s license. That according to a 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.  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.
“With so 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 Stephen Rourke, manager of administration for AAA Driving School. “To meet the needs of drivers of all ages, driving schools in Connecticut also offer adult instruction, which we believe plays a key role in enhancing safety.”
Of particular note, low-income 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 more. 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
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”
The 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.