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.