Traffic fatalities nationwide increased to their highest level since 2007 last year. And according to a recent study, millennial drivers are partly to blame for such increases, especially when it comes to distracted driving and other dangerous driving habits.
Among drivers 19 to 24 years old, 88 percent admitted to engaging in risky behavior while driving within the last 30 days, according to a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The three dangerous driving behaviors include texting while driving, speeding or running a red light.
“Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable,” Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director, said in a statement about the study on Feb. 15.
Chicago officials expressed similar concerns about millennial drivers. “Too often we see what can happen as a result of underestimating risk while driving,” Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA Chicago, said in an interview with CBS Chicago. “Change starts with our own behavior. We need to set a good example by following speed limits, putting the phone down and fully focusing on the task of driving.”
Startling findings about dangerous driving
The AAA study involved more than 2,500 drivers surveyed around the country. Millennial drivers 19 to 24 years old ranked significantly higher than other age groups in terms of engaging in three dangerous driving behaviors listed above during the last 30 days. The statistics for other age groups include:
- Drivers 16 to 18 years old – 69.3 percent engaged in dangerous driving in past 30 days
- Drivers 25 to 39 years old – 79.2 percent
- Drivers 40 to 59 years old – 75.2 percent
- Drivers 60 to 74 years old – 67.3 percent
- Drivers 75 years old or older – 69.1 percent
The statistics for drivers 19 to 24 years old for each of the three dangerous driving habits identified were also startling. Such drivers were:
- 6 times more likely to text while driving compared to other age groups
- 4 times more likely to speed compared to other age groups
- 4 times more likely to run a red light compared to other age groups
Dangerous driving contributes to increase in fatalities
An estimated 40,200 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle collisions in 2016, according to statistics compiled by the National Safety Council as reported by The New York Times. That figure represents a 7 percent increase compared to 2015 and a 14 percent increase compared to 2014, the largest two-year increase in more than half a century.
Human error accounts for 94 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to Debbie Hersman of the National Safety Council, who was interviewed by NPR about the increase in traffic fatalities in 2016. She added that the top three causes of fatal motor vehicle crashes continue to be speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving.
Motorists of all ages need stop engaging in such dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. The statistics don’t lie. Drivers need to pay attention behind the wheel and focus on driving. Otherwise, fatal or serious car crashes caused by dangerous drivers will continue to be a problem in Chicago and across the country.