What percentage of adult Americans own a driver's license?

Related to a question being discussed in GD, is there any estimate for the number of people in the US who do not have a driver’s license?

I imagine a fair number of the elderly, disabled, and some people who live in cities with good public transportation may not qualify for or bother getting a license. I knew two or three people in college who hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

I’m not talking about government-issued IDs apart from driver’s licenses, which most (all?) states also offer and may be necessary if you do things that require photo ID.

I understand. But on the other hand, these ID’s were not issued when I was young. It only began in recent decades when govt IDs became more important, and [here’s the important part:] it became clear that the number of adults without a driver’s license was too large to ignore. Therefore, you might consider looking into the history of these other IDs, as it might show the statistics that you’re looking for.

In this post, in this old thread, I quoted some stats from the US Department of Transportation in the year 2000, coming up with a figure of just under 26 million driving-age people who didn’t hold a driver’s license.

Complicated question – Amswers.com has something like 57% with no details and wiki has the following
“about 75% of people in the US drive cars.
According to the US Census, in 2006 24.6% of the US population was under 18. Since most of these people do not drive, the percent of people who drive must be lower than 75%. Assuming 17% of people under 18 drive, the percentage of people who drive a car in the US is 61%.”

I question their math.

When you look at the populations of cities like New York and people who are licensed basically “for identification purposes” I would expect the actual percentage of those holding a license to be around 50% and the percentage of those who use that license to drive on a regular basis about the same. (Or in other words, 50% of 50%, or 25% of the population as a whole)

Actually, do any of us own a drivers license? They are the property of the state, aren’t they?

:smack: Only on the Dope…


It may not make a big difference, but ideally (since the debate is about voting) you would want to limit the statistics to U.S. citizens of voting age. A lot of non-citizens have driver’s licenses, including people in the U.S. on employment visas and people with green cards.

Here’s the closest I can come to an update.

In 2006 there were about 203 million licensed drivers, age 19-up.
And there were about 226 million people over age 18.

So, ignoring the disjoint of one survey starting at age 18 and the other at age 19, it leaves us with about 23 million, a little less than **Max Torque’s **figure.

About ten percent, a figure that surprises me.

I no longer hold a valid license from any state, but I do have a Thai license. Still had one the last time we were in the US six years ago and plan to get an international license on my Thai one for our trip next year.

Aren’t about 3% of people mentally retarded? I’m sure they didn’t subtract those folks out when it came to the stats, and most of them won’t be drivers.

In my life I’ve known several adults who do not have have driver’s licenses. Most of them weren’t elderly, either. I don’t think it’s nearly as rare as some people think.

Hey, it’s the first thing I thought of as well!

You have to admit, though, it’s an absolutely standard trick question tactic. It works on the same principle as the old “bury the survivors” gag, and if you replace “driver’s license” with “passport” or “social security card” you can make it work for this question just as well.

Just remembered a guy in Texas who did not have a driver’s license. Or maybe he had left it at home? One or the other – I think it had been suspended – but I was with him at the store one time when he was asked for his license when paying by check. He showed the poor check-out girl his passport, and it threw her completely for a loop. She’d never seen such a thing! She almost called the manager, she was so suspicious.

Well, like I said in the other thread, there are people like my brother’s now ex-wife, who is the youngest in a family of 9 kids. When she was growing up, she always had someone to take her wherever she wanted to go, so she just never bothered. After they had kids, she got a license just in case there was an emergency and she had to rush to the hospital or something. She was well into her 30s before she got it. In general, she just didn’t like to drive.

That’s sort of like the people I mentioned, except that as it happened they never ended up getting a license. Or in a few cases they were too scared of driving to ever learn how.

My mother-in-law didn’t get a DL until she was in her 50s. I still don’t think I’ve ever seen her actually drive.