A new report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that “young millennials” are some of the most dangerous motor vehicle drivers on the road today, engaging in a range of unsafe behaviors – including texting while driving, red-light running and speeding – that is increasing their crash risk.
Dr. David Yang, the group’s executive director, noted in a statement that these findings occurred alongside a major spike in U.S. traffic deaths, which jumped 7% to 35,092 in 2015 – the largest single-year increase in five decades.
“Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” Yang said.
“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,” he added.
By rank and by age group, AAA’s study detailed the percentage of drivers who reported engaging in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days by age cohort:
- Drivers aged 19-24: 88.4%
- Drivers aged 25-39: 79.2%
- Drivers aged 40-59: 75.2%
- Drivers aged 16-18: 69.3%
- Drivers aged 75+: 69.1%
- Drivers aged 60-74: 67.3%
Those details are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which is based on a sample of 2,511 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.
In terms of texting while driving, those aged 19 to 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; some 66.1% vs. 40.2%.
Drivers aged 19 to 24 were also nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving, according to AAA’s research; some 59.3% percent vs. 31.4%.
In terms of speeding, drivers aged 19 to 24 were 1.4 times as likely as all drivers to report having driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street, the group found, while nearly 12% of drivers aged 19 to 24 reported “feeling that it is acceptable” to drive 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared to less than 5% of all drivers.
Where red- light running is concerned, nearly 50% of drivers aged 19 to 24 reported driving through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely, compared to 36% of all drivers.
On top of that, nearly 14% of drivers aged 19 to 24 reported “feeling that it is acceptable” to drive through a light that just turned red, when they could have stopped safely, AAA said, compared to about 6% of all drivers.