The majority of teens in America today delay getting a driver's license, according to a new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Less than half of teens surveyed obtained a license within 12 months of the minimum licensing age, and just 54 percent became licensed before their 18th birthday.

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

AAA examined why teens are delaying their rite of passage, and many reasons were cited:

  • 44 percent – Did not have a car
  • 39 percent – Could get around without driving
  • 36 percent – Gas was too expensive
  • 36 percent – Driving was too expensive
  • 35 percent – “Just didn’t get around to it”

Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said there's a solid segment of the young generation that's missing the opportunity to learn under the safeguards that graduated drivers licensing (GDL) provides.

New Jersey has one of the most stringent GDL programs in the nation, extending the upper age limit to 21. In New Jersey, if a person is under 21 or has never had a license, they need to complete a period of supervised driving before getting one.

The AAA findings reinforce a University of Michigan analysis that found about 70 percent of 19-year-olds had their license in 2010, compared to 87 percent in 1983.

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