Wolf Point, MT, photo by C. Hamilton
Wolf Point, MT, photo by C. Hamilton

How Many People Do Not Drive?

Our transportation decisions are often made with the assumption that everyone drives. But what about those who are too young, too old, too poor, disabled, or choose not to drive because of concerns about the future of the planet?

According to Hedges & Company, an automotive marketing research firm:

The age groups with the highest percentage of adults without a driver’s license are 16-19 years old (65.2%), 85 and older (39.9%) and 20 to 24 (19.2%). 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.…It is hard to determine exactly how many people drive in the US. On one hand, some people without a driver’s license drive illegally. On the other hand, some people with a valid license don’t drive and have a license for identification purposes, or they just prefer to not drive. Some people may choose to not drive due to health reasons. It’s probably safe to assume that between 235 million and 240 million Americans drive.

The Census estimates the 2022 US population as 332,403,650. Approximately 22.35% of that total are children under 17. Hedges estimates that the number of Americans with driver's licenses is 238,183,000, and that the number of "actual" drivers is somewhat over 235,000,000.

So, depending on what numbers you pick, the percentage of the US population that does not drive is approximately 30%. And this population appears to be growing.

We will always need cars, especially in rural areas. But we need to ensure that our communities provide transportation access to those for whom driving is not an option.

June 7, 2022