CUMBERLAND — The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released new research which shows that more than 60% of teens obtained their driver’s license before the age of 18, an 11% increase since 2012.
The new report reveals a changing trend in teen licensure from when the foundation first evaluated the issue in 2012. At that time, the country was just emerging from a recession and many young people cited their family’s inability to afford the high cost of driving as a reason why they did not obtain their license sooner.
“The trend of teens obtaining their driver’s license has shifted over the past 10 years,” said Ragina C. Ali, public and government affairs manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Many are now obtaining their license before the age of 18, which means more of Generation Z is learning to drive under the protection of state graduated driver licensing programs and parental supervision.”
The new AAA Foundation study surveyed young adults ages 18-24 to determine when they obtained their license and found that nationally, 40.8% got their license at or before age 16 and 60.3% got their license before the age of 18. Other findings show:
• Only half of teens in large cities obtain their license before the age of 18, compared with nearly two-thirds of those in less urbanized areas.
• Teens living in the Midwest tend to be licensed at younger ages — 55% at or before age 16 and 70% before age 18. While only one-third of teens living in the West and fewer than a quarter of teens in the Northeast reported getting their license at or before age 16, only 56% in the Northeast and 48% in the West did so before age 18.
Past AAA Foundation research found that for every mile driven, new drivers 16 to 17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. All states have in place graduated driver licensing systems for drivers ages 16 and 17 to help them gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions. The programs require minimum holding periods and practice requirements for teens with learner’s permits, followed by restricted licenses that limit driving at night or with peer passengers.
In 2017, Maryland had 82,709 licensed drivers 18 years old and younger. In 2012, 63,107 teens 19 and under were licensed to drive in the state, compared to 171,199 teens 19 and under in 1990, according to the Federal Highway Administration database on driver licensure.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teach new drivers the rules of the road. The online AAA StartSmart program offers resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.