The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Licensed students are becoming decreasingly common

Justine Desmidt
Lindsay Wong and Sofie Budman wait for the bus to come to take them home after school. This is one of the many alternatives students use as transportation instead of driving.

Driver’s licenses among high school students in the U.S. are going on a steep decline.

Despite some students finding a driver’s license important, the trend of decreasing license acquisition has been persisting since the early 2000s. Several factors may be responsible for this shift.

“I don’t ‘need’ one, but it would definitely be helpful,” Carson Skrable, a 16 ½-year-old junior, said.

Gaining a license is a complicated process. Before even being eligible for the license, one must gain a learner’s permit by completing driver’s ed and passing the test on the material. Then, at least 6 months later (with all the requirements needed), the license is given.

According to, 70% of permit test-takers fail on their first try.

“It took me 3 tries to pass my permit test, it was harder than expected,” said Sara Ho, a 15 1/2-year-old sophomore.

By: Justine Desmidt

There has been an undeniable decrease in the number of high school students with licenses in the past few years. According to the Federal Highway Administration, 68% of students had their license by the time they graduated high school in 2007, while only 59% did in 2021. In just 14 years, the rate went down a whole 9%.

According to the AAA Foundation, there are five major causes behind this trend, the first one being the unavailability of a car. Whether parents aren’t willing or able to buy their children their own vehicle or aren’t comfortable having their kid drive theirs, a lot of students wouldn’t have regular access to a car even if they got a license.

By: Justine Desmidt

“My parents don’t want to get me a car or trust me enough to use theirs, so I just didn’t find a point in getting my license in high school,” said Kyra Lu, a 16-year-old Carlmont junior.

Many students also have alternate transportation options to get where they need to go. Many parents don’t mind, or would even prefer to be the ones to drive their children around to the places they need to be.

“I mostly get around either on the bus or my parents driving me,” said 16-year-old Carlmont junior Lindsay Wong.

Some other substantial causes at play are the ever-increasing costs of gasoline and driving overall. With inflation, costs are at an all-time high right now. According to the Energy Information Administration, gas prices have gone up almost fourfold in the last three decades.

By: Justine Desmidt Source:

Finally, a lot of teenagers, never actually complete the process of getting their license. This can be due to homework, extracurricular activities, or just pure procrastination.

“I got involved in the program to get my permit when I was 15 ½, but mostly because of my homework, I never got around to finishing it,” Wong said.

This lack of urgency to get a license seems to be a common theme.

“I honestly just procrastinated a lot for my driver’s ed,” Skrable said. “Instead of being able to get my driver’s license in July, I have to wait until November now.”

As evidenced, the rate of students with driver’s licenses declining has been a 20-year trend now, but the future remains uncertain. 

“I mean at the end of the day, having a license is definitely helpful, but it’s really up to you. If you have other ways to get around that work for you and don’t feel the need to get it right away at 16, that’s great,” Lu said.

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About the Contributor
Justine Desmidt
Justine Desmidt, Staff Writer
Justine Desmidt (Class of 2026) is a staff writer and a sophomore at Carlmont High School. In her free time, she enjoys playing basketball, listening to music, and spending time with her friends.

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