Study: Younger Millennials top list of worst behaved drivers

A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that young millennials are the riskiest drivers – but none of us is really setting a good example.

According to the study, almost 90 percent of young millennials – defined as those between the ages of 19-24 – engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days, earning the top spot of worst behaved drivers in the US.

These dangerous behaviors ― known to increase crash risk ― included texting while driving, speeding and running red-lights.  In fact, 50 percent of the younger millennials said they’d driven through a red light in the past month. 

“As disturbing as this may be, equally disturbing is the fact that the millennials behaving badly are hardly alone” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA. “Before you start finger pointing, look in the mirror. The study found the majority of drivers of ALL ages have also engaged in the same risky behaviors in the last 30 days.”

These findings, part of AAA’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, come as US traffic deaths jumped 7% in 2015 to more than 35,000 – the largest single-year increase in five decades.

For several years running now, the TSCI reveals a culture among U.S. drivers of ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  The same drivers, who describe texting and other risky behavior as ‘unacceptable’, also admit to engaging in it.

“Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director. “It’s critical that these drivers understand the potentially deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behaviors and that they change their behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads.”

By rank and by age group, the percentage of drivers who reported engaging in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days include:

  1. Drivers ages 19-24: 88.4 percent
  2. Drivers ages 25-39: 79.2 percent
  3. Drivers ages 40-59: 75.2 percent
  4. Drivers ages 16-18: 69.3 percent
  5. Drivers ages 75+: 69.1 percent
  6. Drivers ages 60-74: 67.3 percent

Texting While Driving

  • Drivers ages 19-24 were 1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or e-mail while driving in the last 30 days (66.1 percent vs. 40.2 percent).
  • Drivers ages 19-24 were nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving (59.3 percent vs. 31.4 percent).

Speeding

  • Drivers ages 19-24 were 1.4 times as likely as all drivers to report having driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street.
  • Nearly 12 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported feeling that it is acceptable to drive 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared to less than 5 percent of all drivers.

Red- Light Running

  • Nearly 50 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported driving through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely, compared to 36 percent of all drivers.
  • Nearly 14 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported feeling that it is acceptable to drive through a light that just turned red, when they could have stopped safely, compared to about 6 percent of all drivers.

Distracted Driving

  • More than 2 in 3 drivers report talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month, and nearly 1 in 3 say they do so fairly often or regularly.
  • More than 2 in 3 drivers (71.5%) support restricting the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.
  • Most drivers view texting or emailing while driving as a very serious threat to their own personal safety and consider it completely unacceptable. However, nearly 1 in 3 (31.4%) admit to typing or sending a text message or email while driving in the past month, and 2 in 5 (40.2%) report reading a text message or email while driving in the past month.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online at www.AAAFoundation.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

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