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A new analysis offers data on which state populations have the highest (and lowest) percentages of licensed drivers. I was surprised to find that one of the states with the fewest licensed drivers has the worst driving record in the country.

On average, 68% of the U.S. population carries an active driver’s license. New York has the lowest percentage of licensed drivers compared to its total population, 58%. Of course, it’s one of the most populated states in the nation. Many of its residents are located in New York City and have relatively easy access to public transit.

In contrast, Delaware, one of the least populated states in the country, is 85% licensed.

I was surprised to find that Texas, another high-population state, has the second-lowest percentage of driver’s licenses. Only 62% of Texans have one. Even Hawaii has a higher percentage – 63%.

A woman takes driver's license education in a car sitting next to instructor holding a clipboard and pen
Antonio_Diaz via iStock

We’re looking at you, Texas drivers

What’s more, Texas has been highlighted for housing the worst drivers in the country. Forbes Advisor reported that in the state, drunk, distracted, and wrong-way driving was more common than in other areas of the country. Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, El Paso, Houston, and Austin were named in the study.

I’m scratching my head over the combo, considering Texas isn’t well-known for its public transit. From personal experience, most large cities are pretty well full of vehicle traffic. However, I was just in downtown Austin last month, and getting around during work hours wasn’t all that bad. Leaving city limits in the late afternoon on a Thursday was a different story, sure.

A decade-old study found that 91% of Texans rely on a personal vehicle to get around, and only 6% of the population uses public transit. More recent studies show fewer people used Texas MTA over time (2015-2019). Then, the most common user types were lower-income and minorities.

New census data estimates that the average Texan is about 35 years old. As such, Texas has one of the youngest populations in the country. Indeed, it seems younger folks are less itchy to get behind the wheel these days.

Overall, though, I’m still not sure how 30 million people are getting around in Texas if nearly 40% of them aren’t driving themselves. Furthermore, if it gains more licenses, it might lose its “worst drivers” title.

Source: Dolman Law Group