Fewer teens getting driver's licenses

A driver's license just isn't as popular as it once was.

Just 60 percent of Americans between the ages of 17 and 19 hold a driver's license, representing a sharp drop off from 30-years ago. Those findings were published in a recent report by the University of Michigan.

A new study by the U-M Transportation Research Institute found that just 70 percent of 19-year-olds held a driver's license in 2010, marking a five-point slide from the same age group in 2008. The decline is even steeper compared to 1983 when 87 percent of 19-year-olds had a driver's license.

Researchers found that the licensure rate is also declining among 18 and 17-year-olds. In 1983 80 percent of 18-year-olds and 69 percent of 17-year-olds owned a driver's license, but those rates have fallen to 61 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

As the U-M Transportation Research Institute's previous report suggested, the decline of Americans with driver's licenses is believed to be related to an increase in Internet use.

"Overall, the observed decrease in driver licensing is consistent with the continued increase in Internet usage," report co-author Michael Sivak said. "In our previous research, we found that the percentage of young drivers was inversely related to the proportion of Internet users. Virtual contact, through electronic means, reduces the need for actual contact."

The report found that nearly every age bracket saw a decrease in driver's licenses, although those 25-29 and over the age of 70 saw slight increases.