ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Low gas prices, fuel-efficient cars, electric vehicles. These are all hot topics when it comes to the auto and oil industries. However, there is one more concern: Millennials are getting behind the wheel less.
According to a new study by the University of Michigan's (U-M) Transportation Research Institute, slightly more than three in four people aged 20 to 24 in 2014 had a driver's license. The report examined changes in driver licensure in the United States from 1983 to 2014.
The study also found that while more and more teens and twentysomethings are ditching driver's licenses, the trend holds true for pretty much all age groups.
In the report, Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the U-M Transportation Research Institute found a continuous decrease in the percentage of those under age 45 with a license.
Even the proportion of Americans aged 45-69 with driver's licenses has declined overall since 2008, following a 25-year rise.
"Overall, the future evolution of these changes will have potentially major implications for future transportation and its consequences," Sivak said. "Specifically, licensing changes will likely affect the future amount and nature of transportation, transportation mode selected, vehicles purchased, the safety of travel and the environmental consequences of travel."
The study reinforces previous findings by Sivak and Schoettle that showed much lower proportions of teens and twentysomethings today have licenses compared to their counterparts in the 1980s.
About 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983 had their licenses. Thirty years later, that number had dropped to 69 percent. Other teen driving groups have also declined: 18-year-olds fell from 80 percent in 1983 to 60 percent in 2014, 17-year-olds decreased from 69 percent to 45 percent, and 16-year-olds dropped from 46 percent to 24 percent.
Drivers in their 20s, 30s and 40s also saw their ranks fall as a percentage of their age group population since 1983 — down about 13 percentage points for those in their 20s, more than eight percentage points for thirtysomethings, and nearly three percentage points for those in their 40s, according to the U-M Transportation Research Institute.
However, for those in their late 50s and older, the proportion of those with driver's licenses is up about 12 percentage points since 1983, although down more than two percentage points since 2008.
The only age group to show a slight increase since 2008 is the 70-and-older crowd.