(CNSNews.com) – Of the nation’s 221.7 million licensed drivers -- a record high -- almost 1 in 5 of them, or 41.7 million, are 65 years or older, the Transportation Department's Federal Highway Administration said on Monday.
"This age group is growing faster than any other, and is far outpacing their teenage counterparts," FHWA announced.
The largest single-year percentage increase in licensed drivers last year was among people between 75 and 79 years old (a 4.98 percent increase over 2015).
And data collected from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., show that licensed drivers aged 85 or older increased by 161,182 people – or 4.62 percent – since 2015, making it the nation’s second-fastest growing demographic group in 2016.
At the other end of the age spectrum, the number of teenage drivers increased slightly in 2016 for the third year in a row, rising to 8.8 million. That’s the highest number of teen drivers since 2013, but it remains among the lowest levels since the federal government began compiling driver license data in 1963.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, older drivers have higher rates of fatal crashes, based on miles driven, than any other group except young drivers.
The new data also show there were 57 million drivers between the ages of 20-34 in 2016, accounting for nearly one in four U.S. drivers last year, a slight increase from the 56.1 million reported in 2015.
-- In 2016, America’s 112.1 million licensed female drivers outnumbered their male counterparts by 2.5 million.
-- Except for five states – Michigan, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming – the nation saw increases among licensed drivers in 2016 compared to the previous year.
The Federal Highway Administration said its researchers have produced “numerous safety enhancements” to help older drivers, who are more prone to declining vision, flexibility, cognition and reaction times.