The Roads are Full of Bad Drivers - New Study Proves it!

If it feels like America’s highways are becoming more like ancient arenas where gladiators fought to the death, statistics continue to come out proving as much.

Clutch and Chrome has reported on a series of studies analyzing highway accidents which point to historic increases in accidents and fatalities. A new survey from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety gives insight into why the numbers may be going the direction they are.

This newly released report found that 88 percent of young millennials 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.

The 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. 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.

“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.”

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:

  • 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

While the numbers for the young millennial segment of drivers are high, there really isn’t an age-group who are free of traffic sins. Only one category falls below the 70% mark with any room, those who are ages 60-74. But even they are closer to 70% than 60% of having engaged in some form of reckless driving.

Readers should think about these numbers for a moment. Averaging out the numbers, across the ages nearly 75% of drivers have engaged in speeding, red light running or texting behind the wheel in the past 30 days. Frightening thought.

Looking at the different distractions more closely not only shows which age group is more likely to engage in them, but the fact that they consider it acceptable.

Texting while driving leads to an abundance of traffic dangers. Aside from being distracted, drivers doing this drift in and out of lanes as well as run red lights. 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.

This same age group were nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving.

The category of young millennials also leads the dangerous habit of speeding with drivers ages 19-24 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.

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. Again, 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.

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