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Millennials Found To Be Worse Behaved Drivers, Study Finds

CHICAGO (CBS) – A new survey spells out just what age group of motorists behave badly behind the wheel.

Young millennials, ages 19-24 earned the top spot as the worse behaved U.S. drivers, after a new report from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 88 percent of these drivers engaged in dangerous driving behavior in the last month. WBBM's Bernie Tafoya reports.

The survey asked more than 2,500 motorists about their driving habits. Although at least two-thirds of every age group from 19-year olds up to 74-year olds admitted to speeding, texting while driving or running red lights in the last month, more than 88 percent of the 19-24-year old group said they have done at least one of those behaviors.

The next likely age groups who engaged in these bad driving behaviors were drivers ages 25-39 at 79.2 percent and drivers ages 40-59 at 75.2 percent. Teenagers ages 16-18 ranked fourth with 69.3 percent engaging in dangerous behaviors, followed by drivers 75+ at 69.1 percent and drivers ages 60-74 at 67.3 percent.

"Alarmingly, some of the drivers ages 19-24 believe that their dangerous driving behavior is acceptable," said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director, in a statement. "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."

Between 1991 and 2015, the lives of 982,307 people have ended because of a motor vehicle crash in the United States, according to the study's research. Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for people aged 16-24 for each year from 2012 to 2014. U.S. traffic deaths rose to 35,092 in 2015, which is more than a 7 percent increase from 2014.

Phones have become a major distraction when driving. The study found more than two in three drivers reported talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month, and nearly one in three said they do so often. Young millennials (ages 19-24) were 1.6 times likely, compared to all driver, to report having read a message while driving in the last month; and nearly twice as likely to report having sent a message while driving.

Speeding is also a leading cause in traffic deaths. Nearly half of drivers said they have driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway in the past month, and nearly a quarter of those drivers said it is acceptable. Similarly, nearly half of drivers said they have driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street in the past month. Young millennials were 1.4 times as likely to report driving 10 mph over the speed limit in residential areas.

The study also found that although 92.8 percent of drivers said it was unacceptable to drive through a red light after it just turned red, more than one in three drivers admitting to doing so in the past month. Nearly 50 percent of young millennials admitting to driving though a red light and 14 percent stated it was acceptable behavior.

"Too often we see what can happen as a result of underestimating risk while driving," said Beth Mosher, director of public affairs for AAA Chicago. "Change starts with our own behavior. We need to set a good example by following speed limits, putting the phone down and fully focusing on the task of driving."

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