Jan 21, 2019

Question of the Day: What percent of high school seniors have a driver's license?

Answer: 71.5%


  • Do you have a driver’s license? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think fewer high school seniors are getting driver’s licenses?
    • One cause might be the sharp increase in car insurance rates.
  • Looking at the chart above, what year do you see the biggest decline? What might explain why fewer seniors had their licenses?
  • What do you think this number will be in ten years? Explain your answer. 

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (Monitoring the Future Study mentioned in PBS NewsHour s):

The share of high school seniors across the country who have a driver’s license dropped from 85.3 percent in 1996 to a record low 71.5 percent in 2015, according to data from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey.

The drop has been sharpest in the South, where the share of high school seniors with a driver’s license fell from 88.6 percent in 1996 to 71.2 percent in 2015. High school seniors are most likely to have a license in the Midwest — 80.4 percent — and least likely to have one in the Northeast — 64.8 percent.


Like this question of the day? They may not have their license yet but maybe they are already thinking about buying that first used car. Try NGPF's Buying a Used Car project.

About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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