Teenagers’ Licensing Decisions and Their Views of Licensing Policies: A National Survey

One objective of the study was to determine teenage licensing rates on a national basis, interest in early licensure, and reasons for delay. A second objective was to learn teenagers' opinions about licensing policies, important in states considering ways to upgrade their current licensing systems. One thousand three hundred eighty-three 15- to 18-year-olds completed an online survey in November 2010. They were drawn from a nationally representative panel of US households recruited using probability-based sampling. The panel included cell phone-only households, and Internet access was provided to those without it. Weighting procedures were applied so that the study population represented the national US population of 15- to 18-year-olds. Most teens said that they were interested in getting a license as soon as legally possible, but many had not started the process. At 16, teens were about equally divided among those who had not started, those in the learner stage, and those with a restricted or full license. At 18, 62 percent had full licenses; 22 percent had not started. For those old enough to start, lack of a car, costs, parent availability, ability to get around without a car, and being busy with other activities were leading reasons for delay. The majority of teens were not in favor of higher licensing ages. Forty-six percent thought the minimum learner age should be 16; 30 percent thought the full license age should be 18 or older. The majority approved of night (78%) and passenger (57%) restrictions, and 85 and 93 percent endorsed cell phone and texting bans, respectively. When these policies were packaged together in a single law that included an age 16 start, night, passenger, cell phone and texting bans, and a full license at age 18, 74 percent of teens were in favor. The study showed that teenagers are not as supportive of strong licensing policies as parents of teens, but there is evidence that they will support comprehensive policies likely to lead to further reductions in teen crash rates.


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  • Accession Number: 01352383
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Sep 14 2011 1:24PM