Is Delayed Driving Licensure Associated With Emerging Adult Health, Education, and Employment?



      Driving licensure remains a major developmental milestone for adolescents as they become more independent to access important health, education, and employment opportunities. Today, more teens are delaying driving licensure than before. We investigated associations of delayed licensure with health, education, and employment 4 years after high school.


      We analyzed data from all seven annual assessments (W1–W7) of the NEXT Generation Health Study, a nationally representative cohort survey starting at 10th grade (W1, 2009–2010). The independent variable was delaying driving licensure (DDL [delaying ≥1 year] vs. No-DDL), defined as participants receiving driver licensure ≥1 year after the initial legal eligibility time until W7. Outcome variables were self-reported health, education, and employment at W7. Covariates included sex, race/ethnicity, family affluence, parental education, and urbanicity. Multinomial logistic regressions were conducted considering complex survey features.


      No-DDL versus DDL was associated with a higher likelihood of (1) excellent (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.06, p < .001), good (AOR = 1.74, p < .001), and fair (AOR = 1.34, p = .008) health compared with poor health; (2) completing a 4-year college or graduate school [AOR = 2.71, p < .001] and tech/community college [AOR = 1.92, p = .004] compared with high school or less; and (3) working ≥30 hours/week (AOR = 7.63, p = .011) and working <30 hours/week (AOR = 1.54, p = .016) compared with not working.


      Among emerging adults, no delay in driving licensure was associated with better self-reported health, higher education, and more working hours four years after leaving high school. Although earlier driving licensure increases driving exposure and risk, avoiding DDL appears to provide advantages for health, education, and employment during early adulthood.


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      Linked Article

      • Achieving Transportation Equity: How Can We Support Young People’s Autonomy and Health in a Rapidly Changing Society?
        Journal of Adolescent HealthVol. 70Issue 5
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          Earning a driver’s license has historically been described as a rite of passage for young people, signifying a key transition toward greater independence, but the freedom to drive unsupervised also marks the time period when crash rates among young drivers are at their highest. Prior research has shown an emerging trend of later licensure, such that young people are earning driver’s licenses at older ages and that sociodemographic factors such as being a member of a racial minority group and having lower family economic status contributed to later licensure [1,2].
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