Driving Age Around the World
The age when you can legally get behind the wheel differs around the world. While the most common driving age is 18, laws in many countries allow younger drivers on the road. In one province in Canada, even 14-year-olds can join the ranks of drivers. Can they even touch the pedals?!
Also different from place to place is when you can get your learner’s permit and begin driving with parental supervision. Moreover, driving age requirements also range depending on the type of vehicle, whether car, motorcycle, or moped. So let’s take a look at the differing driving ages on the map below, then continue for driving age insights.
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Youngest Driving Age in the World
While many in the U.S. consider 16 the average age to obtain a driver’s license, it’s actually one of the younger age requirements. Over 120 countries proclaim 18 as their minimum age, yet many others have the same lower-than-average driving age as the U.S., as you’ll see below:
- 16 years old: American Samoa, Cameroon, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guam, Isle of Man, Northern Mariana Islands, Saudi Arabia, United States*, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
- 16.5 years old: Australia
- 17 years old: Austria, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Georgia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Jersey, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom
- 17.5 years old: New Zealand
Ten other countries join the U.S. with the youngest driving age of 16, including three Oceanic (American Samoa, Guam, and Northern Mariana Islands) and African (Cameroon, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) countries each.
Of course, the minimum driving age varies state by state in the U.S. For example, you can obtain an unrestricted license at 16 in four states: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Meanwhile, 13 states only offer the same license to 18-year-olds, including Washington, Texas, and Florida.
Rules for driving in Australia are complex and varied. The minimum age to obtain a car or motorcycle learner license which allows driving under supervision is 15 years and 9 months, in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). All other states and territories require learner drivers to be 16 years of age or older. Driving unsupervised by progressing to a provisional license is possible after 12 months, with minimum supervised hours (including nighttime driving) required in the form of a logbook. The exception to this is the Northern Territory, where learner drivers can progress to a provisional license after 6 months, without the need for a driving test or logbook.
On the other hand, the oldest minimum driving age is 23. That law is from Niger, even though most African countries mandate 18. Nearby, the driving age in Kuwait is 18… yet being a non-Kuwaiti raises that to 21, the same as the drinking age in seven countries. Even so, in many countries, teens can begin learning to drive much earlier.
Where 14-Year-Olds Can Get a Learner’s Permit
The lowest age of full licensure may be 16, but the minimum learner’s permit driving age can be even lower. Some drivers can be as young as 14 (with parental supervision), as you’ll find in the table below.
|Country||Minimum learner’s permit age|
|Northern Mariana Islands||15.5|
Some parts of both Canada and the U.S. allow 14-year-olds to get learner’s permits. In Canada’s case, only one province (Alberta) has this low age. Meanwhile, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut add a year to that (15). As for the rest of the Canadian provinces, it’s 16 to get a supervised permit.
As for what state can you drive at 14, it’s just a handful of places. Only six states (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, and South Dakota) mark the start of young drivers’ journeys at 14.
Note the rest of the countries with the youngest on the map above. Or check out the 14 countries with the oldest age requirements for a permit (17). Otherwise, we’re moving on to other types of vehicles.
Other Vehicle Types: Mopeds and Motorcycles
Car driving ages, unrestricted and supervised aside, there are other types of vehicles, such as mopeds and motorcycles. While both are motorbikes, a moped has a smaller engine, usually 50cc or less, often making the age requirement less than that of larger-engined motorcycles.
Twenty-two countries have established moped driving ages, the lowest of which is 14 in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Switzerland, and Poland. Meanwhile, 24 countries put a limit on riding motorcycles, with Thailand having the youngest age at 15.
Check out the rest of the moped and motorcycle driving ages on the map, when you sort the map.
View What You Want, Hide What You Don’t
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For another example of how grouping can illuminate new insights into your data, check out Voting Age Around the World.