More Teen Drivers Getting Licenses Before They’re 18.

AAA says that’s an increase since 2012.


Towson, Md (KM) More teenagers are getting their driver’s licenses before they reach 18. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says more than 60% of teens are obtaining their licenses before hitting the legal age for adulthood, which is an 11% increase since 2012, a year that the country was emerging from a recession.

“Back in 2012, we saw quite a different trend, and we were seeing that more and more teens were waiting until after they were 18 or older to get their driver’s license,” says Ragina Ali, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “So it’s a sort of reversal trend, sort of a shift in what we’ve seen over the past ten years, and more consistent what we have seen in earlier years prior to the recession.” .

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 40.8% of teenagers got their licenses at or before age 16, and 60.3% got their licenses before the age of 18. Other findings show 49.8% of teenagers in large cities obtain their licenses before they’re 18, with near two-thirds in less urbanized areas.

Region by region, 55% of teenagers in the Midwest receive their licenses on or before they turn 16, and 70% before age 18. In the west, 32.2% of teenagers get their license to drive before 18.   in the Northeastern United States, 22.3% obtained their licenses at or before age 16; 56% of teenagers in the Northeast secured their licenses before age 18, as did 48% of those in the West.

Ali says all states have graduated licensing which allows teenagers to be gradually  introduced to the rules of the road between the ages of 16 and 17. Graduated licensing means that teenagers receive learner’s permits which means they must do some practice driving. Under a restricted license, teenagers are limited in driving at night, and how many of their fellow teens they can have as passengers in a vehicle.

“Past trends of waiting until you turn 18 to be licensed was a cause of concern for us.  Because doing that,  many of these young drivers were then getting behind the wheel with minimal knowledge, or support, putting themselves and other drivers and roadway users at risk,” says Ali.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says new teen drivers age 16-17 are three times more likely than adults to be involved n a deadly vehicle crash.


By Kevin McManus