Teens typically take the rap for their risky driving, but new research indicates that young millennials garner the top spot on the list of worst behaved U.S. drivers. The findings, issued in a report released last week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and education organization, show that about 88 percent of young millennials (adults between the ages of 19-24) engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days.
These dangerous behaviors – which increase crash risk — included texting while driving, red-light running and speeding.
“Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” Dr. David Yang, the AAA Foundation’s executive director, said in a statement. “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.”
The findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent and the largest single-year increase in five decades, the group said. And new estimates based on an analysis of preliminary data by the National Safety Council indicate the spike in deaths is the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 and an indication that 2016 may have been the deadliest on the nation’s roads since 2007.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the council noted, as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year, a 6 percent increase over 2015 and a 14 percent increase over 2014.
The survey results are part of the foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The data are from a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.
Among drivers ages 19-24, 88.4 percent reported engaging in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days. Drivers in that age group are:
–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 and nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving.
–1.4 times as likely as all drivers to report having driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street and nearly 12 percent 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.
–and nearly 50 percent reported driving through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely, compared to 36 percent of all drivers, and nearly 14 percent 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.
The report also highlighted the percentage of drivers in other age groups who reported engaging in dangerous behavior in the past 30 days: Drivers ages 25-39: 79.2 percent
Drivers ages 40-59: 75.2 percent
Drivers ages 16-18: 69.3 percent
Drivers ages 75+: 69.1 percent
Drivers ages 60-74: 67.3 percent