We’ve heard over the past few years that the driving boom is over in the US. People are driving less and a smaller portion of the population is choosing to have a driver’s license.
Michael Sivak and his colleagues at the University of Michigan recently released an update on the percentage of people with driver’s licenses in the US. In 2011, the original research found that the percentage of young people with a driver’s license decreased substantially between 1983 and 2008. What’s the latest on driver’s license trends?
An even larger percentage of young and middle aged adults are going about their lives without driving themselves around. For example, the percentages for 20- to 24-year-olds fell from 91.8% in 1983 to 82% in 2011 in the prior research. They fell, again, to 76.7% in 2014. The continued trend opens conversations about transportation priorities. If fewer people are getting driver’s licenses, and thus getting around some other way, how are they accessing the places they need to go to get things done? For all that autonomous vehicles gained traction, they aren’t yet carting around young people without drivers licenses. And, yes, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft took off, but transit ridership broke records.
This trend could mean a long-term increase in demand for transit—useful transit. If so, it seems time to discuss transportation priorities, including whether and how to change infrastructure and services and deciding out how to pay for it.