Millennials, Not Teens, Are the Most Dangerous Drivers

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When it comes to poor driving stereotypes, newly licensed teenagers get a bad rap. But a new study reported by USA Today shows that young adults surpass teens' risky behaviors behind the wheel by a wide margin. According to a 2016 survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 88.4 percent of drivers ages 19 to 24 admitted to either texting while driving, running a red light, or speeding at some point in the previous 30 days.

The market research firm GfK surveyed 2511 drivers late last summer for AAA’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index [PDF]. Following drivers in their early twenties, motorists ages 25 to 39 were the second most dangerous group. More than 79 percent of drivers in this age bracket reported one of the bad behaviors above, making Millennials (defined by Pew as those between the ages of 20 and 36) the most reckless generation on the road. Generation X doesn’t fare much better, with 75 percent of respondents ages 40 to 59 engaging in at least one of the risky acts. Teenagers ages 16 to 18 years old came in third place with 69.3 percent admitting to dangerous habits, followed closely by drivers 75 and older with 69.1 percent, and drivers ages 60 to 74 with 67.3 percent.

Texting while driving is one area where young adults further stood out. Over 59 percent of drivers 19 to 24 years old reported sending a text or email while driving in the past month compared to 31.4 percent of all drivers. This is also the guiltiest age group when it comes to driving through red lights (nearly 50 percent said "yes" compared to 35.6 percent overall), and speeding on residential streets (64.3 percent compared to 44.5 percent).

With some hazardous behaviors, a portion of young adults won’t even admit that they’re unacceptable. Nearly 12 percent of drivers in the group said that speeding in a school zone was fine in some circumstances, compared to 4.5 percent of total respondents.

Fortunately for other motorists, the number of young adults on the road is decreasing. A 2014 survey [PDF] found that just 76.7 percent of people ages 20 to 24 had a driver's license, which is down from 79.7 percent in 2011, 82 percent in 2008, and 91.8 percent in 1983.

[h/t USA Today]