How many licensed drivers are there in the US?
Need to know how many drivers are in the USA? What’s the percentage of Americans with driver’s licenses? This information isn’t always easy to find, so we put some stats together on the number of licensed drivers in the USA in 2021 and how many Americans drive. This includes a forecast of licensed drivers through 2023.
We pulled data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and we pulled additional data. We then added our own analysis and projections to answer the question, “how many drivers are in the USA?” and many other related questions.
Note: click for even more automotive aftermarket trends and stats on this page.
What percentage of American adults have a driver’s license
89% of all American adults have a driver’s license. That includes everyone 25 years old and older.
Overall there are more licensed drivers in California than any other state, with more than 26 million licensed drivers. 84% of the population of California that is of driving age is a licensed driver. The second highest state of licensed drivers is Texas, with nearly 16 million, followed by Florida with over 14.6 million licensed drivers.
The state with the highest percentage of licensed drivers vs. the driving age population is Vermont. The state with the lowest percentage of licensed drivers vs. the driving age population is Kansas.
|Year||Licensed Drivers in US|
Statistics on number of drivers in the US
How many Americans drive? In the 1950s, the number of drivers in the USA increased an average of 3.6% every year. In the next decade, the 1960s, the number of drivers in the USA increased at a lower average of 2.51% each year. The 1970s saw the annual increase rise slightly to 2.84%, but we’ve never seen an annual growth rate like we had in the 1950s.
The 1980s were much slower in terms of annual growth, with an average of a 1.46% increase in the number of licensed drivers in the US. In the 1990s that continued to drop, to an average annual increase of 1.24%.
The 2000s saw a continued slowdown with an average annual growth of 1.14%. The 2010s had the lowest growth since the 1950s, at 0.81%.
2012 was the first year with a decline in licensed drivers in the US from the previous year.
We don’t yet know the full impact of coronavirus on licensing of new drivers. Miles driven was down in 2020 and that has a negative impact. On the other hand, in 2021 use of public transportation hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. We’ll update this as more data comes in.
Percentage of Americans with drivers’ licenses by age
We looked at how many drivers are in the USA by age. Here is the percentage of Americans with driver’s licenses compared to the total population, with population estimates from the Bureau of the Census.
Across all age groups, 84.1% of all Americans have a driver’s license.
The lowest percentage of total licensed drivers is among 16- to 19-year-olds, where just 34.8% of the population has a driver’s license.
Statistics are based on 2019 population estimates.
|Age Group||% Licensed Drivers|
|16 to 19||34.8%|
|20 to 24||80.8%|
|25 to 49||90.1%|
|50 to 69||93.5%|
|70 to 84||84.9%|
|85 and older||60.1%|
Driver’s licenses by men and women
The question, “how many drivers are in the USA?” often also leads to gender questions. The split between driver’s licenses held by male licensed drivers and female licensed drivers is very even. Based on 2019 data, 49.4% of all licensed drivers are male and 50.6% are female. Part of the reason the percentage is higher for female licensed drivers is related to life expectancy. In a younger age bracket, ages up to 24, that ratio becomes the opposite. 50.7% of all 24-year-old and under licensed drivers are male, 49.3% are female.
Number of drivers in the world
It is estimated there are about 1.4 billion drivers in the world, but the number may be higher and closer to 2 billion. Here’s why it is difficult to come up with a number: Although about 84.1% of the US population is a licensed driver, the percentage of drivers around the world is closer to 16% to 17%. It is nearly impossible to determine how many licensed drivers there are in the world because different countries enforce driving differently. Some third-world countries may not enforce licensing or testing very much, or at all. The total number of drivers in the world is easier to determine than the number of licensed drivers in the world.
How many Uber drivers are there? How many Uber drivers in the US?
If you need to know how many Uber drivers there are, Uber claims 5 million worldwide as of the 4th quarter of 2020. Drivers are in 69 countries. That’s up from 2018 when Uber said there were 3 million Uber drivers around the world, in 65 countries.
According to CNN there were 750,000 Uber drivers in the US in 2017. Business Insider claimed there were 327,000 Uber drivers in the US in 2015. Ride sharing declined significantly with the impact of coronavirus but seems to be recovering. If you need the NAICS code for Uber drivers follow this link.
How many Lyft drivers in the USA?
It has been claimed that there are 700,000 Lyft drivers in the United States and 1.5 million around the world. CNet cites a report of 1.4 million Lyft drivers in the US. If you need the NAICS code for Lyft drivers follow this link.
How many CDL drivers in the USA?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) there were 2,029,900 heavy-duty truck and tractor-trailer drivers in the US in 2019. That’s up from 1,871,700 in 2016. This is projected at 2,060,500 by 2029. These drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
The BLS is forecasting an increase in 30,600 jobs through 2029 with a 2% growth rate.
Sources for this article, including number of licensed drivers, are the US Census Bureau, the Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation, with additional analysis by Hedges & Company.
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