FLORHAM PARK, NJ -- A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 88 percent of young millennials (young adults 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 U.S. drivers. These dangerous behaviors — which increase crash risk — included texting while driving, red-light running and speeding. These findings come as U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, an increase of more than seven percent, the largest single-year increase in five decades.
“Alarmingly, some of the drivers between 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 age group, the percentage of drivers who reported engaging in speeding, red-light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days:
- Drivers ages 19-24: 88.4 percent
- 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
Texting While Driving
- Drivers ages 19-24 were 1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or email 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 email while driving (59.3 percent vs. 31.4 percent).
- 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 five percent of all drivers.
- 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 six percent of all drivers.
“As in previous years, the 2016 Traffic Safety Culture Index finds an attitude of ‘do as I say do, not as I do’ among motorists,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs & government relations for AAA Northeast. “This culture of indifference puts the safety of drivers and other road users at risk.
“While many motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, most of them are not making safe decisions behind the wheel. It’s up to every driver to make responsible decisions when driving, which will make the roads safer for everyone.”
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 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 AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.