A stronger economy and low fuel prices have more Americans hitting the roads over the past few years, but a new study finds that many are taking dangerous and unnecessary risks behind the wheel.
Four in 10 drivers said they had read a text message or e-mail behind the wheel, and three in 10 said they had typed or sent one, according to a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Millennial drivers were the worst offenders: More than two-thirds of drivers age 19 to 24 said that they had read a text or email while driving, and six in 10 said they had written or sent one.
Such actions can have serious consequences. More than 35,000 people died in 2015 in traffic crashes, a 7 percent increase from the previous year and the first time the number has gone up in 50 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Ten percent of those fatalities involved distracted driving.
Drivers ages 19-24 were also more likely to engage in other forms of risky behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding or running a red light, and to say that such practices were acceptable. Overall, the study found that 88 percent of Millennial drivers had engaged in at least one risky behavior in the last 30 days.
“It is critical that these drivers understand the potential deadly consequences of engaging in these types of behavior and attitudes in order to reverse the growing number of fatalities on U.S. roads,” David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in a statement.