PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new study finds that the majority of American teens delay getting a driver’s license.
The research, which was conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, surveyed 1,039 respondents ages 18-20 from across the country, and the data shows that only 44 percent of teens had obtained a driver’s license within 12 months of the minimum age for licensing in their state.
Just over half (54 percent) became licensed drivers before their 18th birthday.
AAA says the data shows a significant drop from 20 years ago, when more than two-thirds of teens were licensed by the time they turned 18.
According to AAA, the reasons for this appear to be related to the rising cost of owning a car and buying gas. Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents said they could get around without a car, and 36 percent said gas and driving were too expensive. Thirty-five percent claimed they just hadn’t gotten “around to [getting a license].”
But officials see potential for safety consequences related to the GDL safeguards in place in many states, including Pennsylvania.
“With one in three teens waiting to get their license until they turn 18, there’s a segment of this generation missing opportunities to learn under the safeguards that GDL provides,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a press release. “For most, it’s about not having a car or having alternatives for getting around that are the top reasons cited for delaying what has traditionally been considered to be a rite of passage.”
Pennsylvania adopted its GDL law in 1999. It requires a certain number of behind-the-wheel training and limits the number of passengers who can travel with a young driver.