AAA: Younger Millennials Top List of Worst Behaved Drivers

Hamilton, NJ, February 15, 2017 ― A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety finds that while young millennials are the riskiest drivers – none of us are setting good examples.

According to the study, almost 90 percent of young millennials – defined as those 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 drivers in the US.  

These dangerous behaviors ― known to increase crash risk ― included texting while driving, speeding and running red-lights.  In fact, 50 percent of the young millennials said they’d driven through a red light in the past month. These 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.

New Jersey recorded 522 fatal collisions that resulted in 562 deaths, according to the New Jersey State Police 2015 Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash report.  This is a decrease of one fatal collision over 2014, but an increase of six deaths which equates to 1.54 motor vehicle fatalities per day.

“As disturbing as this may be, equally disturbing is the fact that the millennials behaving badly are hardly alone” says Tracy Noble, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Before you start finger pointing, look in the mirror. The study found the majority of drivers of ALL ages have also engaged in the same risky behaviors in the last 30 days.”

In a 2016 AAA survey of 655 New Jersey motorists, 94 percent said they believe other drivers are very or somewhat distracted when using a hand-held phone or a hands-free device to talk or text. However, only 28 percent of them admitted to using a hand-held phone, which is illegal, and 50 percent said they used a hands-free device to make a call.

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  

These findings, part of AAA’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI), come as US traffic deaths jumped 7% in 2015 to more than 35,000 - the largest single-year increase in five decades.

For several years running now, the TSCI reveals a culture among US drivers of ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  The same drivers who describe texting and other risky behavior as ‘unacceptable’, also admit to engaging in it.

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

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.