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Do millennial drivers pose a greater road risk than others?

In a survey of over 2,500 drivers, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that millennials engage in hazardous driving habits more than other age groups do. In fact, some 19-24-year-olds see no problem with risky driving habits at all.

For example:

  • Nearly 60 percent of millennials were guilty of texting or sending emails from behind the wheel, compared to 31.4 percent of other motorists.
  • Almost 12 percent of millennials said driving more than 10 miles above the speed limit in a school zone is acceptable; only 5 percent of other drivers thought so.
  • Thirty-six percent of motorists in other age groups confessed to running a red light when they could have stopped safely, yet nearly half of millennials admitted doing so.

These statistics came to light amid increasing numbers of road-related deaths. The number of traffic fatalities in 2015 (35,092) increased 7 percent from just one year earlier.

Young kids these days

While it can be tempting to blame millennials for the recent uptick in road-related accidents and deaths, let's consider the driving habits of motorists overall. While 88.4 percent of millennials reported engaging in distracted or aggressive driving in the past month, other age groups didn't fare much better. About three-quarters of drivers aged 40-59 reported speeding, running red lights, and texting while driving. Among the oldest drivers (age 75+), nearly 70 percent admitted to less-than-stellar driving habits. The rate for this group was slightly higher than that of the 60-74 year-old age bracket.

Nobody's perfect behind the wheel

Drivers of all ages agreed that certain behaviors are unacceptable, yet engaged in them anyway. For example. while about 78 percent of drivers declared reading a text or email to be unacceptable, 40 percent admitted to doing just that. About 80 percent of motorists felt the same way about drowsy driving. However, 28.9 percent admitted to operating a vehicle when they could barely keep their eyes open. While over 35 percent of drivers admitted to running a red light in the past month, nearly all of them deemed the behavior completely unacceptable.

When asked about driving while intoxicated, 81percent were in favor of ignition locks for first-time offenders, and 63.5 percent advocated lowering the maximum legal blood-alcohol concentration from 0.08 to 0.05. Unfortunately, 2.5 percent of motorists confessed to driving within an hour of using alcohol and marijuana during the past year.

Drivers of all ages need to understand the serious consequences of risky driving and adopt behaviors that will make the roadways safer for everyone.

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