Each State and the District of Columbia administers its own driver
licensing system. Since 1954 all States have required drivers
to be licensed, and since 1959 all States have required examination
prior to licensing. Tests of knowledge of State driving laws and
practices, vision, and driving proficiency are now required for
new licensees. A summary of State driver licensing requirements
is given in a separate publication, Driver License Administration Requirements
and Fees, published biennially.
LICENSES ISSUED AND IN FORCE
Table DL-1 shows the number of learner permits and driver licenses
issued by each State during the calendar year, length of term,
renewal date, fees, and the number of driver licenses in force
by class at the end of the year.
MALE-FEMALE DRIVER RATIOS
Table DL-1A lists the numbers of male and female licensed drivers in each State. The distribution of total U.S. licensed drivers, by sex and age group, is shown in table DL-20. DL-22 displays the number of drivers by sex and age for each State. For the States that do not provide the driver license data broken out to the top age bracket of 85 and over, we have redistributed the last age bracket provided by each State according to the Census population data for those particular age brackets in that particular State.
LICENSED DRIVERS AND POPULATION
Table DL-1B shows the relationship of licensed drivers to total
population and to driving-age (age 16 and over) population. Since
there will always be persons of driving age who will not be licensed,
by choice, or because of physical or mental infirmities, the relationships
shown normally could never reach 1,000. However the following
conditions can make the relationships higher than expected: (1)
Although efforts are made to minimize it, drivers who move from
one State to another are sometimes counted in both States until
the license from the previous State of residence expires; (2)
Some persons obtain their driver licenses in States other than
those of legal residence; and (3) Some persons fraudulently obtain
multiple licenses. Some State authorities doubt whether all persons
who drive are licensed. Where this problem exists, those that
are unlicensed would partially offset any duplicate licenses issued
and inactive licenses. The degree to which this occurs is unknown.
USE OF DATA
In 1990 (Highway Statistics 1989), a strict standard was
established to determine the number of unrestricted drivers under
the age of 16 on the road. This new rule stated that a driver
must be able to drive inclusively between the hours of 5:00 A.M.
and 12 Midnight without another licensed driver in the
car. Since this new standard cut the number of drivers from 1988
to 1994 approximately 66%, one must keep this in mind when comparing
the data from earlier years.