ANN ARBOR, MI – A new study from the University of Michigan (U-M) Transportation Research Institute found that 6 in 10 Americans ages 17-19 had a driver’s license in 2010. This study updates research conducted by U-M up through 2008.

Thirty years ago, 8 in 10 Americans in that age group had a license. In 1983, roughly 87% of 19-year-olds, 80% of 18-year-olds, and 69% of 17-year-olds had a driver's license, according to the U-M study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. In 2010, roughly 70% of 19-year-olds, 61% of 18-year-olds, and 46 %of 17-year-olds had a driver's license. The study also shows a drop in the number of driver’s licenses for people in most age groups except for small increases in the age groups 25-29 and over age 70.

"Overall, the observed decrease in driver licensing is consistent with the continued increase in Internet usage," 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."

A smaller group of young people with driving experience means fewer younger employees with basic driving skills, potentially increasing the need for driver training.