Non-Licensed Driver Statistics and Information

car accident with unlicensed driver

Motor vehicle laws exist to mitigate risks to drivers and pedestrians. Of those laws, the best known is likely the requirement of a driver’s license to operate road vehicles. Unfortunately, some motorists continue to drive despite a suspended or revoked license, which puts anyone on the road with them at risk of a car accident with an unlicensed driver.

It can be challenging to determine exactly how many people drive without a license, but the risks associated with the behavior are clear.

Risks of Driving Without a License

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety (NHTSA)’s 2021 Traffic Safety Facts report[1], unlicensed drivers accounted for almost 11,000 fatal crashes. Of those fatal crashes:

  • 31.8% of drivers had previous license suspensions or revocations
  • 17.2% of drivers had previous collisions
  • 16.9% of drivers had previous speeding convictions

The results of the NHTSA’s report illustrate two key facts:

  • Unlicensed drivers are responsible for 18.4% of fatal motor vehicle accidents.
  • Unlicensed drivers tend to be repeat offenders.

For law-abiding drivers and pedestrians, sharing the road with unlicensed drivers comes with life-altering risks.

A Common Demographic

No matter how many people drive without a license, some demographics are more prone to do so than others. The California Department of Motor Vehicles conducted a study[2] looking at 22 years of fatal crash data. It found that, between 1987 and 2009, 49% of fatal crashes involved unlicensed drivers between the ages of 20 and 29.

Per the NHTSA’s 2021 Traffic Safety report, men continue to surpass women in crash involvement. In 2021, male drivers accounted for 59% of road accidents, while female drivers were responsible for 41%.

In many fatal accidents involving unlicensed drivers, the unlicensed individual drove while under the influence of alcohol. Data from the CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System[3] published in 2020 found that 1.2% of adults drove[4] after having too much to drink in the last 30 days.

According to the NHTSA’s Fatality and Injury Report System (FIRST)[5], some states have a higher prevalence of fatal traffic accidents involving unlicensed drivers.

  • Texas tops the list at 18.3%.
  • California, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Hawaii are close at around 16%.
  • New Hampshire has the lowest percentage at just 5.5%.

In some cases, even the time of day can play a part. It’s common for unlicensed drivers to be on the road early in the morning or late at night. Although the reason for this is unclear, motorists may expect less police presence during those times.

Unlicensed Driver Accident Trends

In 2022, the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis[6] reported that 52.3% of multiple-vehicle crashes involved the front ends of the vehicles, while 26.4% were rear-end accidents. Modern vehicles include many safety features that help protect drivers in such accidents, keeping fatalities to a fraction of a percent. However, drivers do suffer injuries in high-speed collisions, and property damage is inevitable. 

Despite these modern safety features, a preliminary report from the National Safety Council estimates at least 3,510 fatal crashes for November 2023 alone[7].

However, the risks also extend to motorcyclists. A report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute[8] shows that motorcyclists also frequently drive without a valid license. In fact, the number of unlicensed motorcyclists appears to have increased between 2019 and 2020. An estimated 38% of fatally injured motorcyclists rode without a valid license, putting them at much greater risk than car drivers.

Although unlicensed drivers can have car insurance that covers their car while it’s parked or while others are driving it, insurance does not cover the driver themselves. In an accident with an unlicensed driver, the insurance claim process may be that much more stressful. Fortunately, settlements are possible, but the amount you can expect from a car accident settlement will vary depending on the nature of the accident and any injury or property damage sustained.

If an unlicensed driver injured you, our pre-settlement funding could help offset the cost of your court claim. Whether your accident was a broadside collision or occurred as you swerved to avoid an erratic motorist, if your case qualifies for funding, we would be happy to work with you.

What Measures Have Been Taken?

It’s important to find a way to deter and prevent unlicensed individuals from getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

A recent study into preventing unlicensed driving in young people in North Carolina[9] found that the introduction of a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system for young drivers had a short-term positive impact, lowering unlicensed driving for a while. However, rates of unlicensed driving in 17-year-olds returned to normal after a few years, suggesting other strategies may improve road safety.

Other methods include pulling over the driver and having them take their license plates off of the car, having them pay for towing, requiring them to pay $1,000 to get their car back, and giving police the authority to pull over a car even if multiple people in the household use it.

These strategies ensure that the individual with the revoked or suspended license is no longer able to get behind the wheel of that car.

If you initiated a lawsuit regarding injuries sustained due to a car accident involving an unlicensed driver and worry about your ability to keep up with all of your expenses, call USClaims today.

We offer pre-settlement funding. If a case qualifies for pre-settlement funding, we’re willing to purchase a portion of the proceeds of the anticipated court judgment or settlement for some cash now. We only get paid if we win your case or reach a settlement. Apply now or call us today at 1-877-USCLAIMS to learn more.

The availability of pre-settlement funding varies by state. Contact USClaims for more information.

Sources

  1. Brar, Sukhvir. Estimation Of Fatal Crash Rates For Suspended/Revoked And Unlicensed Drivers In California. 2012, www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/file/estimation-of-fatal-crash-rates-for-suspended-revoked-and-unlicensed-drivers-in-california/. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.
  2. CDC. “Impaired Driving: Get the Facts | Motor Vehicle Safety | CDC Injury Center.” Www.cdc.gov, 6 Nov. 2020, www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC – BRFSS.” CDC, 2019, www.cdc.gov/brfss/index.html.
  4. “Fatality and Injury Reporting System Tool (FIRST).” Dot.gov, 2017, cdan.dot.gov/query.
  5. “Fatality Facts 2018: Motorcycles and ATVs.” IIHS-HLDI Crash Testing and Highway Safety, www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/motorcycles-and-atvs#trends.
  6. “Monthly Preliminary Motor-Vehicle Fatality Estimates.” Injury Facts, injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/preliminary-monthly-estimates/.
  7. TRAFFIC SAFETY FACTS 2020 a Compilation of Motor Vehicle Crash Data. crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813375.
  8. Traffic Safety Facts 2021 a Compilation of Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Data. crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813527.
  9. Wang, Yudan Chen 1, et al. “Unlicensed Driving among Young Drivers in North Carolina: A Quasi-Induced Exposure Analysis.” ProQuest, Dec. 2022, https://doi.org/10.1186/s40621-022-00391-9.
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