A new study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety puts numbers to a problem many have suspected: Young drivers take the most risks behind the wheel compared to drivers of any other age. Based on surveys of more than 2,500 drivers, 88% of drivers between 19 and 24 years old admitted to engaging in at least one risky driving behavior during the previous thirty days.
The findings were part of 2016’s Traffic Safety Culture Index, an ongoing effort to assess what Americans think of traffic safety and how they practice it. The index looks at all sorts of driving safety factors, including speed, distracted driving, seat belt use, and more.
This year’s survey, conducted toward the end of last summer, uncovered a lot of interesting but disturbing information about how drivers behave, including what the report’s authors characterize as a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude toward traffic safety. For example, while more than 92% said it was unacceptable to drive through a red light when they could have stopped safely, more than one-third of those same drivers admitted doing just that at least once in the past month.
The initial release of the report’s data focused on the attitudes and behaviors of one particular group: drivers aged 19 to 24. Drivers of this age group showed the highest amount of dangerous behavior, self-reporting that they engaged in risky actions behind the wheel 10% more often than any other age group.
Drivers in this group led in almost every unsafe behavior category. In the preceding 30 days, they were more likely to do the following:
However, they also won a category emphasizing self-awareness: They were more likely than drivers in other age groups to feel they were worse drivers than average.
It may not be fair to single out a particular group for unsafe driving behaviors. If you review the report, you’ll see that no group stands out as role models. But it’s important to recognize that these dangerous behaviors exist and that, statistically speaking, some drivers are more likely to put others at risk.
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