Herald-Whig View

Defying stereotypes, distracted driving puts everyone in danger

Posted: Mar. 14, 2017 10:05 am

IN recent years, we've heard a lot about the rising number of millennials who never bother to learn how to drive. They're the first generation of Americans since automobiles rolled off the assembly lines of Detroit to have no interest in the teen ritual of securing driver's licenses.

The problem is more with people who do drive. According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a survey of 2,511 millennial drivers, 88.4 percent from age 19 to 24 admit to texting while driving.

Drivers between 16 and 18 are at 69.3 percent. The recklessness doesn't stop there. Millennial drivers also admit to running red lights even if they could have stopped safely, and speeding in both highway and nonhighway situations.

Attitudes are almost as bad as actions. Twelve percent of millennials surveyed said they don't believe there's anything wrong with going 10 mph above the posted speed limit in a school zone. Only 5 percent of nonmillennials try to justify such behavior.

In 2015, the number of U.S. traffic deaths rose 7 percent from the previous year, to 35,092. This represents the biggest one-year increase in a half-century. Unfortunately, millennials, with their distracted driving habits, are a part of that deadly mix.

It isn't just a problem for millennials. Seventy-five percent of people age 40 to 59 admitted to driving just as recklessly as millennials. Those between ages 60 and 74 admitted to driving as poorly as their young counterparts 67.3 percent of the time. The over-75-year-old drivers had a slightly higher rate at 69.1 percent. None of this is acceptable.

The parody of an old person screaming at young people usually involves an old man standing on his porch shaking his fist at the neighborhood kids and saying, "Get off my lawn." That cliche isn't appropriate here because millennials and nonmillennials are both guilty of violating their civic responsibilities and putting us all in danger while behind the wheel.