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Timing of Driver’s License Acquisition and Reasons for Delay among Young People in the U.S.

, 2012

Background – GDL
• GDL benefits the age groups it applies to:
20 – 40% reduction in crashes of 16-year-olds 6 – 19% reduction in crashes of 17-year-olds

GDL generally does not apply to ages 18+

Background – Teen Licensing
• No reliable data on young driver licensing − Current proportion licensed? − Historical trends?
• Perception that young people are delaying getting their license

The (Potential) Problem
• If teens are delaying licensure, they may not be covered by GDL’s protective influence • Effects of GDL on 18- to 20-year-olds not entirely clear
− Some studies suggest GDL might increase crash rates of older teens

• How many older (18+) novice drivers are there?
− Are they waiting until 18 to get licensed because of GDL?

New Study
Released August 2013 Available at

Study Objectives
• Determine proportion licensed
− Within one year of state minimum age − Before turning 18

• Examine factors associated with licensure timing • Investigate possible reasons for delay
− GDL makes it difficult or undesirable? − Costs? − Lack of perceived need/interest? − Other factors?

• Nationally-representative survey
− 1,039 18- to 20-year-olds

• Questionnaire covered:
− Current license status − Age at licensure, permit − Reasons for delay
• 19 items: Very important reason Somewhat important reason Minor reason Not a reason

Licensure Status at Time of Survey
Revoked/Suspended/ Expired, 1%

No license/permit 17% Permit, 12%

Licensed, 70%

Timing of Licensure



w/in 1 yr

Before 18

Factors Associated with Getting License Before 18th Birthday
Household Income
< $20K/year: > $100K/year: 25% licensed before 18 79%

Non-Hispanic white: Non-Hispanic black: Hispanic: 67% licensed by 18 37% 29%

Self-Reported Reasons for Delay
(Among Those Not Licensed by 18)

• • • • • • • • • •

44% - No car 39% - Could get around without driving 36% - Gas too expensive 35% - Just didn’t get around to it 30% - Nervous about driving 29% - Just not interested 28% - Had to complete driver education first 25% - Parents too busy 21% - Respondent too busy 17% - Could connect with friends online

Delaying Licensure for the Purpose of Avoiding GDL?
• 23% - special requirements for young drivers made it hard to get a license
• 21% - didn’t want a license with special restrictions for young drivers • 19% - to avoid having to take driver education

Delaying Licensure for the Purpose of Avoiding GDL?
Of respondents not licensed by 18th birthday, 68% still not licensed by 19th birthday (when GDL restrictions would have been lifted in most states)

Conclusions & Implications
• Most don’t get licensed right away • Most cite cost, lack of opportunity/interest; few cite desire to avoid GDL

Conclusions & Implications
• Even though GDL isn’t the reason for delay, many teens are likely not protected by it because of the delay

Time to investigate new ways to build on GDL’s commendable successes!

For more information, go to:

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable organization. The Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education. The Foundation is supported by donations from AAA/CAA Clubs, AAA/CAA members, and other organizations and individuals.