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Millennial drivers are highway hazards, survey shows

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RichLegg | Getty Images

Millennial drivers are the worst.

That's not just their elders talking. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 88% of drivers 19- to 24-years-old acknowledged engaging in risky behavior such as texting while driving, running red lights or speeding during the previous month, according to a report released Wednesday.

The survey of 2,511 drivers from Aug. 25 through Sept. 6 by market research firm GfK found:

• Millennials acknowledged typing or sending a text or email while driving at nearly twice the rate of other drivers (59.3% to 31.4%).

• Nearly half of Millennials reported running a red light even if they could have stopped safely, compared with 36% of the rest of drivers.

• Nearly 12% of Millennials said it was acceptable to speed 10 mph over the speed limit in a school zone, compared with 5% of other drivers.

"Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19 to 24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable," said David Yang, the foundation's executive director.

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The findings come as driving is becoming more dangerous: The number of traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015. That 7% increase from a year earlier was the largest one-year jump in five decades.

The survey also found drivers are hypocrites. Motorists told AAA that distracted, impaired and aggressive driving are unacceptable. Yet many drivers engaged in the same behaviors they had condemned.

While 40.2% of drivers reported reading a text or email during the previous month, 78.2% called that "completely unacceptable," the survey said.

Nearly 80% of motorists also said drowsy driving is "completely unacceptable," but 28.9% admitted driving within the previous month when they were so tired they had trouble keeping their eyes open.

Almost all drivers, 92.8%, called driving through a red light unacceptable when they could have stopped safely. But more than one in three, 35.6%, acknowledged running a light during the previous month.

There was strong support from 81% of drivers for requiring ignition locks for even first-time offenders of driving while intoxicated. And 63.5% of drivers agreed with a proposal to reduce the blood-alcohol concentration from the current national standard of 0.08% to 0.05%.

But 2.5% of drivers acknowledged driving within an hour of using marijuana and alcohol during the past year.

"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 in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads," Yang said.