In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about the rising number of millennials who never bother to learn how to drive. What used to be a ritual of passage for nearly all teens, the culmination of many hours of driver’s education, practice driving, learning permits, etc., is now not seen as being that big of a deal for more teens than ever.
Even though the Emerald Coast isn’t home to a developed mass transit system, Uber is here, kids know what it is, and they just, as a whole, don’t seem as interested as their parents and grandparents were in getting behind the wheel.
It’s likely to lose even more appeal as mass transit becomes more common and the promise of self-driving vehicles grows. If millennials want to lessen their carbon footprint by slacking their lust for buying and owning cars, more power to them, though it’s not happening as fast here as you’ll find in the larger metropolitan areas.
The problem, as they say, is more with those who still do drive.
According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a survey of 2,511 millennial drivers, 88.4 percent between 19 and 24 admit to texting while driving.
Drivers between 16 and 18 are at 69.3 percent. The stupidity and recklessness doesn’t stop there. Millennial drivers also admit to running red lights even if they could have stopped safely, and speeding in highway and non-highway situations.
Attitudes are almost as bad as actions. Twelve percent of millennials surveyed said they don’t think there’s anything wrong with going 10 mph above the posted speed limit in a school zone. Only 5 percent of non-millennials try to justify such behavior. We’re afraid to ask what people think about going 10 mph over the speed limit on a highway; we might all have let them one become too common.
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 half a century. Millennials with their distracted driving habits, unfortunately, are a big part of that deadly mix.
It isn’t just a problem for millennials. Seventy-five percent of those aged 40-59 admitted to driving just as recklessly as millennials. Those between 60 and 74 admitted to driving as poorly as their young counterparts 67.3 percent of the time. The older than 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 non-millennials are guilty of violating their civic responsibilities and putting us all in danger while behind the wheel.
-- The Northwest Florida Daily News