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Are millennial drivers behind the recent spike in fatal crashes?

According to recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. roads and highways have become decidedly more dangerous in recent years. In fact, agency statistics show that there were 35,092 traffic fatalities in 2015 alone. To put this in perspective, consider that this was a 7 percent increase from 2014 and the single largest year-to-year increase in traffic fatalities in 50 years.

This naturally raises the question as to what exactly is behind this alarming phenomenon. Fascinatingly, a recently released study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified at least one possible culprit: millennial drivers.

Last week, the safety advocacy group released the results of a survey of 2,511 motorists between the ages of 19-24 inquiring about their driving behaviors during the preceding month.

It revealed some rather cavalier -- and incredibly dangerous -- attitudes among young people toward driving:

  • 59.3 percent admitted to sending a text or typing an email while behind the wheel versus 31.4 percent of other drivers
  • Almost 50 percent admitted to running red lights despite the fact that they could have come to a complete and safe stop versus 36 percent of other drivers
  • Almost 12 percent admitted to finding it permissible to travel 10 miles-per-hour over the posted speed limit in school zones versus 5 percent of other drivers

As damning of millennial drivers as this report may seem, it's important to note that AAA also found some level of hypocrisy present among drivers of all ages:

  • 78.2 percent called reading a text or typing an email while behind the wheel "completely unacceptable," yet 40.2 percent of all drivers admitted to this behavior
  • 92.8 percent called running red lights "completely unacceptable," yet 35.6 percent of all drivers admitted to this behavior
  • Almost 80 percent called drowsy driving "completely unacceptable," yet 28.9 percent of all drivers admitted to this behavior

What this report underscores more than anything is that all drivers -- regardless of age -- must start changing their attitudes and habits in order to reduce the number of serious and fatal collisions.

What are your thoughts? 

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