Younger millennials are tagged a forgettable distinction, based upon findings from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
A report--which contained survey data of a sample of 2,511 drivers, ages 16 and older, who reported driving within the last 30 days--found that drivers between the ages of 19 and 24 were the worst behaved drivers, meaning they had engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel within the past month.
The dangerous behaviors included speeding, red light running, and texting while driving and, according to data referenced by AAA, have all been known to increase crash risk.
"When you drive, how careful are you compared to most other drivers on the roads where you drive?" asked Ken Grant, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "In that 19 to 24 age range, 26 percent said they are much more careful than the drivers around them, (and) 48 percent said somewhat more careful."
Still, the survey told a different story.
More than 88 percent of drivers, ages 19 to 24, admitted to actual risky behavior while driving, besting the next highest risk demographic by nearly 10 percentage points.
- Young Millennials (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 75 and over: 69.1 percent
- Drivers ages 60-74: 67.3 percent
"As disturbing as this may be, equally disturbing is the fact that the millennials behaving badly are hardly alone," Grant added. "Before you start finger pointing. look in the mirror. The study found the majority of drivers all ages have also engaged in the same risky behaviors in the last 30 days."
Statistics from Delaware State Police certainly supported the study's findings. In 2015, for example, troopers reported making 47,573 speed arrests as well as 4, 250 cell phone arrests.
Furthermore, with U.S. traffic deaths in 2015 showing the largest single-year increase in five years, at 35, 092, the reversal of the trend would need to begin immediately, especially among younger millennials.
Texting while driving: Drivers ages 19 to 24 were 1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or an email while driving in the last 30 days (66.1 percent compared to 40.2 percent)
Speeding: Drivers ages 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. Additionally, nearly 12 percent of drivers ages 19-24 reported feeling that it's 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 to 24 reported driving through a light that had just turned red when they could have stopped safely, compared to 36 percent of all drivers. Furthermore, nearly 14 percent of younger millennial drivers felt that it was acceptable to drive through a light that just turned red, when they could have safely stopped, compared to about 6 percent of all drivers.
When perception isn't reality, however, every age group is required to impact the change.
"The vast majority of drivers consider themselves to either be somewhat more careful than other drivers around them," Grant attested. "(But) it may be a matter of people just stopping to realize that they may not be as careful a driver as they think they are."