U.S. licensed drivers by state
The driver’s license became mandatory in the United States in the early 20th century, with Missouri and Massachusetts being the first states to require an official license for operating certain types of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, passenger vehicles, trucks, trailers or buses. New Jersey became the first state to require all drivers to pass a mandatory test before being granted an official driver’s license.
In 2016, there were about 222 million licensed drivers in the United States. At around 26.2 million, California issued the highest number of licenses in the country that year. Not only is California the U.S. state with the highest number of licensed drivers, but it is also the most populous state in the U.S. overall, representing close to 12 percent of the country’s total population. While 95 percent of residents aged 65 to 69 held a driver’s license in 2012, the percentage of U.S. driver’s license holders between 20 and 24 stood at only 76 percent in that same year.
When it comes to accidents, people aged 21 to 24 are most at risk. Across all age groups, the male population has substantially higher death rates than the female population.