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FHWA Releases New Data Showing Nearly 20 Percent of U.S. Drivers Are Over 65

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, D.C. 20590, - News Follow us on Twitter @USDOTFHWA USDOT briefing room

FHWA 52-16 Tuesday, October 18, 2016 Contact: Doug Hecox Tel.: 202-366-0660

Older Drivers Remain One of Fastest Growing Demographics, Confirms USDOT’s 30-Year ‘Beyond Traffic’ Estimates

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published preliminary data today showing that there are more drivers than ever before – an estimated 217.9 million – and that 42.8 million, or nearly one in five, are over 65 years old. The final data are expected to be published later this year.

Drivers over 65 remain one of the fastest-growing demographic groups among U.S. drivers. With a 2 percent increase, representing 4.4 million more drivers over 65 than in the previous year, it is the biggest single-year percent increase on record for that population.

These new figures support U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s “Beyond Traffic,” a 30-year vision for future transportation, which predicts a 77 percent increase among drivers over age 65 by 2045.

The data collected from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., show there were 217.9 million licensed drivers in 2015. Drivers who are 80 or older increased by 1.1 percent since 2014. At 110.4 million, women drivers outnumbered the 107.6 million men drivers last year, continuing a trend that began in 2005.

FHWA researchers continue to develop and improve safety enhancements for America’s roads to address the challenges facing older drivers, ranging from declining vision to decreased flexibility and psychomotor performance, and changes in perceptual and cognitive performance. Some innovations include longer merge lanes, roundabouts, better lighting, more visible signage and other intersection improvements.

The number of teen drivers increased slightly for the first time in two years, rising to 8.73 million from 8.5 million in 2014, but continuing to remain at a near-record low. By comparison, there were nearly 10 million teen drivers in 2008.

The data show 56 million drivers between the ages of 20-34, generally known as “millennials,” which accounted for nearly one in four U.S. drivers last year – up slightly from the 54.9 million reported in 2014.

The final data will be published later this year in FHWA's "Highway Statistics," an annual compilation of information about drivers, vehicles and roads. The data reflect the growing demands on the U.S. highway system and inform decisions by transportation policy makers, researchers and academia.

Additional information about how the FHWA designs roads for older drivers can be found in "Handbook for Designing Roadways for the Aging Population," available online at, which offers substantial information on the methods and techniques used to accommodate this growing driver demographic.

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