Young people are the highest risk drivers on the road. You might be surprised to find out it is not necessarily the newly-licensed drivers who are posing the greatest risk of a car crash. It is the group between the ages of 19 and 24 that is flouting the law and their duty to use reasonable care behind the wheel. This troubling information on the irresponsible driving behaviors of this age group comes from a new survey conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Young Adult Drivers Engage in High-Risk Driving Behaviors
Three of the most dangerous behaviors on U.S. roads involve driving while distracted, running red lights, and speeding. AAA Foundation found young adults ages 19 to 24 were more likely than any other age groups to engage in each of these dangerous behaviors. When asked if they had done any of these three things in the prior 12 months, 88.4 percent of drivers aged 19 to 24 said they had, compared with just 69.3 percent of drivers ages 16 to 18.
Texting and driving was a big problem for young motorists ages 19 to 24. Study authors reported 66.1 percent of these drivers said they had either read a text or an email while behind the wheel, compared to 40.2 percent of drivers overall who had read an email or a text. Sending texts or email was an even bigger issue. Drivers 19 to 24 were about twice as likely as other motorists to admit they’d typed up text or email communications while driving. Just 31.4 percent of all drivers had done this, compared with 59.3 percent of drivers 19 to 24.
Speeding 10 mph or more over the speed limit was another behavior drivers 19 to 24 were more likely to engage in. Five percent of all drivers thought it was fine to exceed the speed limit in a residential area by at least 10 miles per hour. Meanwhile, among drivers 19 to 24, twelve percent found this to be OK. Since young millennial drivers were more likely to find speeding acceptable, it should come as no surprise they were 1.4 times as likely to go this fast as compared with other drivers.
Finally, while just 36 percent of all drivers admitted to running a red light, almost 50 percent of motorists ages 19 to 24 said they had gone through a light shortly after it turned red, even though they could have stopped.
Young drivers need to know how unacceptable and dangerous these behaviors are. Addressing these issues effectively will likely involve some combination of approaches, including increased law enforcement and ongoing education. We don’t want more young motorists to learn the hard way how deadly these kinds of careless actions can be.