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Fewer and fewer people are getting driver's licenses in the US

A new University of Michigan study shows that licensing is losing popularity across every single age demographic. And it's been this way since 2011.

Between 1983 and 2014, the youngest drivers have seen licensing rates drop precipitously, whereas for older drivers, it's quite a different story.

UMTRI

Do you know a person who refuses to get a driver's license? It's not just for ardent fans of cycling anymore. According to a new University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) study, more and more Americans are foregoing driver's licenses in favor of...well, not having one.

The study, by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, is a follow-up to a 2011 UMTRI study that covered the exact same point. When 2011 was the end point for the data, only older Americans were seeking licenses in increased quantities -- every other demographic was dropping. Now, using the Federal Highway Administration's data from 2014, the study shows that every demographic is losing interest.

The biggest shift between 2011 and 2014 took place in two demographics -- 16-year-olds and 20-to-24-year-olds -- with each group falling 3 percent to 24.5 percent and 76.7 percent, respectively. The lowest amount of change was among 17-year-olds, where the percentage of licensed individuals fell from 45 percent to 44.9 percent.

While UMTRI did point out that numbers are falling across every age range, the study only looked at the data. That is to say, there was no attempt to figure out why this is happening. There exist a number of potential factors -- a renewed push for improved public transportation, increased concentration in urban areas -- but how they connect to actual licensing rates remains a mystery.

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