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The states with the highest share of young drivers on the road

lzf // Shutterstock

The states with the highest share of young drivers on the road

A young person driving a car.

The coveted teenage dream of obtaining a driver’s license at 16 has been headed toward the scrap yard for almost 40 years. Federal Highway Administration data from 2020, the most recent available, shows that drivers 19 and younger make up 3.7% of all U.S. drivers—and drivers 16 and younger are just 0.5% of the nation’s drivers.

Those ratios are shrinking: An analysis by mobility advocacy group Green Car Congress found that in 2018, 61% of 18-year-olds had a driver’s license, down from 80% in 1983. Over the same period, the proportion of 16-year-olds with licenses also dropped from 46% to 25%.

Using data from the FHWA, The General has compiled the 10 U.S. states with the largest shares of young drivers—those 19 and younger.

Because people in more rural states may be more likely to need—and therefore get—a driver’s license, the states are also listed with their urbanization indexes, sourced from a 2020 analysis by FiveThirtyEight. And indeed, more rural states tend to have a higher percentage of drivers who are young.

The General

Rate of young drivers in each state

Map of 50 states featuring percent of drivers 19 and under.

Rural Midwestern states were among the most likely to have higher percentages of young drivers. In part that’s likely because they are made up of less dense, more expansive areas and lack significant public transit services.

As a nation, the U.S. is not the most transit-accessible: The 10 largest metropolitan areas in the country make up just one-quarter of the nation’s census tracts, but 95% of census tracts with regular public transit service, according to a UCLA analysis of Census Bureau data. Most of those transit hot spots are on either the East Coast or the West Coast—with nearly one-third of them in the New York City metropolitan area.

In addition, the pandemic may have somewhat slowed the rate of young drivers getting licenses: Nationally, 3.9% of the nation’s drivers were 19 and under in 2019. In 2020 that share dropped to 3.7%.

Nicholas Stankus // Shutterstock

#10. Nebraska

A country road in midwest Nebraska.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 5.33%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 38,395
– Total drivers in state: 720,896
– Urbanization index: 10.2

Inbound Horizons // Shutterstock

#9. Idaho

Cars crossing Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 5.42%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 35,312
– Total drivers in state: 651,522
– Urbanization index: 9.59

LMspencer // Shutterstock

#8. Alabama

A street in downtown Montgomery with cars driving and parked on the road.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 5.49%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 107,425
– Total drivers in state: 1,956,800
– Urbanization index: 9.61

Kristi Blokhin // Shutterstock

#7. South Carolina

Cars driving down King Street in Charleston.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 5.58%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 103,806
– Total drivers in state: 1,861,511
– Urbanization index: 10.11

Dan Thornberg // Shutterstock

#6. Minnesota

Aerial view of curving road along Mississippi River in northern Minnesota.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 5.96%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 122,559
– Total drivers in state: 2,055,978
– Urbanization index: 10.46

FTiare // Shutterstock

#5. Iowa

The I-80 highway in Iowa with a sunset in the background.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 5.97%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 67,141
– Total drivers in state: 1,124,007
– Urbanization index: 9.59

Matt Fowler KC // Shutterstock

#4. Kansas

Downtown Lawrence on Mass Street Near the Granada Theater.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 6.04%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 58,539
– Total drivers in state: 969,756
– Urbanization index: 10.12

ungvar // Shutterstock

#3. Oklahoma

An aerial view of the historic Route 66 roadbed near Clinton.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 6.63%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 78,573
– Total drivers in state: 1,184,969
– Urbanization index: 9.94

Bob Pool // Shutterstock

#2. Utah

Interstate Highway 15 in Provo.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 6.74%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 73,075
– Total drivers in state: 1,083,825
– Urbanization index: 10.96

Alex Cimbal // Shutterstock

#1. South Dakota

Cars driving through a herd of bison in Custer State Park.

– Share of drivers age 19 and under: 7.34%
– Total drivers 19 and under: 24,391
– Total drivers in state: 332,249
– Urbanization index: 8.73

This story originally appeared on The General and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

Article Topic Follows: stacker-Lifestyle

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