Unsafe Behavior Behind the Wheel Places Young Drivers at Great Risk
Historian and noted author, Tom Brokaw, made famous the term “Greatest Generation,” which refers to those born during the Depression and then who went on to fight battles during World War II. Those called Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964, and today, one of the most popular generations mentioned are “Millennials,” those born between 1980 and 1994. Not surprisingly, each generation has its differences due to the events that shaped the most impressionable years. However, today some of those differences are proving deadly among the millennial generation and the sad part is, it could be avoided.
Risky Behavior Leads to Millennial Auto Accident Deaths
Risky behavior is nothing new. Every generation has their own version of unsafe conduct, though what was done by teens in the 1940s may be considered benign by today’s standards. However, there is increasing concern about one generation when it comes to traffic safety, and that concern is for millennials.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA) and its Foundation for Traffic Safety, research shows that 88 percent of young drivers, or millennials, when questioned said that within the past month they engaged in risky behavior while driving. Those behaviors include speeding, texting while driving, and running red lights, and oftentimes result in preventable car accidents. Dr. David Yang, the executive director of the AAA Foundation said that it’s alarming that young drivers are not only participating in risky behavior while driving but according to the study, young drivers believe their behavior is acceptable. As Dr. Yang noted:
“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 to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads.”
Making the matter worse, nearly 80 percent of 29-to-39-year-old drivers said that within a 30-day period, they too took risks while in a vehicle. Thankfully, the numbers do go down as drivers age as research shows that those between the age of 60 to 74 exhibit the least amount of risk-taking while driving. However, that leaves a huge swath of motorists who participate in risky behavior when behind the wheel.
Important Lessons for Young Drivers
Though final numbers are not in, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that vehicle crashes in 2017 resulted in more than 40,000 fatalities; 40,100 is the estimated final number. While that total does reflect a slight decline from 2016 fatalities, it’s an estimated six percent higher than the total vehicle deaths that occurred in 2015. However, young drivers are killed at an alarming rate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that every day in the United States, six teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are killed in car crashes. When you look at all generations, research has shown that the age group hardest hit by traffic fatalities, are those age 15-20. In Colorado, state officials also note that young drivers are most at risk of being killed in a traffic crash. Last year, nearly 70 young drivers were killed in crashes, a 22 percent increase from 2016.
When you look at the cause behind a lot of accidents involving young drivers, it all points to risky behavior, whether that is texting and driving, refusing to wear a seatbelt, speeding, or drinking and driving. Regardless of how old you are, it is up to you, the driver, to keep yourself, your passengers, and others as safe as possible on the road. That means reducing risky behavior, obeying all traffic laws, and maintaining focus on the road and your surroundings.