Report: After Deadly Year, Young Millennial’s Top List of Worst-Behaved Drivers

New study shows that 88 percent of young millennials nationwide engage in risky behavior behind the wheel. Impaired, distracted driving remain serious, growing public safety concerns.

DENVER (Feb. 15, 2017) — In the wake of the deadliest year on Colorado’s roadways in a decade, a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that young millennials, in part, may be to blame. Nationally, a full 88 percent of young millennials – those aged 19-24 – engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days – earning them the top spot among America’s worst-behaved drivers. These dangerous behaviors, which substantially increase crash risk, included texting while driving, red-light running, and speeding. The findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than 7 percent – the largest single-year increase in five decades.

“Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “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

Impaired Driving

  • 4.9 percent of drivers reported having driven within one hour of using marijuana in the past year, and 2.5 percent reported having driven within one hour of using both marijuana and alcohol in the past year.
  • Drivers support: Requiring built-in interlocks for all new vehicles (71.8 percent), lowering the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (63.5 percent), and a marijuana per se law (84.2 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.

“Colorado does much to protect its road users: It’s already illegal to text and drive and we’re one of only a handful of states with a marijuana per se law,” said AAA Colorado President and CEO Linda Cavanagh. “But the fact remains that more than 600 Coloradans died on our roadways last year. Today’s report makes it clear that there’s much, much more we can do to keep each other safe. Drivers new and old should remember to slow down, never drive impaired, put your phone in your glovebox, and obey every single traffic signal. AAA Colorado is committed to protecting our members and all road users by continuing to promote a culture of responsibility.”

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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