Millennials may be bad drivers, but parents aren't much better

A recent AAA survey finds that drivers of all ages, but especially millennials, regularly drive recklessly.

There might be some truth to the idea that young drivers are also riskier drivers after all. That's according to a recently released study by the AAA Foundation that found drivers aged 19 to 24 admitted to engaging in risky driving behaviors much more frequently than older drivers, reports USA Today. However, before those older drivers feel too much pride in their abilities, it is worth pointing out that even though older drivers didn't rate as poorly as young drivers did, a large majority of them nonetheless admitted to either texting, speeding, or running a red light within the past 30 days.

Young and old drivers compared

The AAA Foundation surveyed 2,511 drivers last year about the risks they take while on the road. Perhaps most disturbingly, the survey found that 88.4 percent of drivers aged 19 to 24 said they had either exceeded the speed limit, texted while driving, or ran a red light within the past 30 days. Close to half of that age group said they had run a red light even when they knew they could stop and more than 59 percent of those young drivers said they sent a text or email while behind the wheel.

However, as WXXI News reports, older drivers didn't fare much better. The survey found that 79.2 percent of drivers aged 25 to 39 engaged in at least one of the three risky driving behaviors, while that figure declined only slightly to 75.2 percent of drivers aged 40 to 59. The safest age group was drivers aged 60 to 74, but 67.3 percent of them nonetheless still admitted to risky behavior while driving. In fact, at least two thirds of drivers in every age group admitted to either speeding, texting, or running a red light in the past 30 days.

Drivers don't follow their own advice

Just as worrying is that most drivers agree that texting, speeding, and running a red light are dangerous, but they still engage in those behaviors regardless. For example, 78.2 percent of drivers said that reading a text or email while driving is "completely unacceptable," yet 40.2 percent did it anyway. Likewise, 80 percent of drivers called drowsy driving unacceptable, but 28.9 percent of them had driven while struggling to stay awake in the past month. Finally, 35.6 percent of drivers had run a red light in the past month, despite 92.8 percent of them also calling the practice unacceptable.

That disconnect from what drivers know versus how they actually drive is troubling given the increasing number of fatalities on the nation's roads and highways. Traffic deaths surged 7.7 percent in 2015, for example, the largest single-year increase since the 1960s. Much of that increase has been blamed on distracted driving, especially in the form of texting and driving.

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