Global Study Pegs Millennials as Worst Offenders of Using Phones While Driving

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 In a global study, Liberty Mutual Insurance conducted a quantitative survey to assess driving attitudes and behaviors across the United States and Western Europe. And, guess who topped the worst offenders list for phone use behind the wheel? Millennials.

  • A Liberty Mutual Insurance study compared driving habits across generations and found Millennials are the worst when it comes to unsafe driving practices, especially when it comes to phone use.
  • Although Millennials score the worst, Gen X and Boomers are also culprits.
  • By practicing some easy safety tips, drivers can create safer roads for everyone.

And, in a dubious honor, Millennials in the U.S. beat out their European counterparts for the most dangerous behaviors. But, let’s take a deeper dive into what’s going on in the mean streets of America.

Although 50% of U.S. Millennials agree their phone causes a major distraction while driving, 86% admit they still do. Compared to the average of U.S. respondents, that’s nearly 30% higher. Keep in mind that respondents self-assess and admit to behaviors, so there might be a wee bit of fibbing involved.

Certainly a lot of  people keep their phone within eyeline while driving. U.S. Millennials copped to doing just that 67% of the time. More than just glancing at the phone, 53% send emails and texts as well.
(Photo: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash)

More practice doesn’t improve skills

Unfortunately, practice doesn’t make perfect when it comes to driving and interacting with your phone. As Mike Sample, MS, CSP, lead driving safety expert & technical consultant at Liberty Mutual points out, “However, using your phone behind the wheel does not get less risky the more you do it. You’re still putting yourself and other drivers on the road at risk of having an accident.”

When driving, hope it’s among the Boomers. They rate the safest on the road by a longshot in comparison to Millennials and Gen Xers. Take, for example, 86% of Millennials glance at incoming calls or texts, while Gen X drops down to 72% and Boomers only 49%. Another telling statistic is that 33% of Millennials use social media with less than half (15%) of Gen X committing the same offense. Just 3% of Boomers are offenders in this area.

Millennials also win in the aggressive driving category. While 22% of Boomers take charge on the road, 47% of Millennials admitted to the behavior. And when it comes to multi-tasking, such as eating or putting on makeup, Millennials handily take the category with 63%. Gen X drops down to 54% and Boomers 37%.

The funny thing is that 47% of drivers engage in unsafe driving practices, yet 98% consider themselves safe drivers.

(Photo: Melissa Mjoen on Unsplash)

Leave enough time for travel

Running late can also disrupt safe driving practices. When pressed for time, 51% of Americans speed and 23% either don’t stop at stop signs or do what’s called the “rolling stop,” which obviously isn’t one at all.

“Driving under stress, whether it’s the stress of getting to your destination on time or the need to be ‘always-on’ and reachable for others, has an undeniable impact on your driving,” said Sample. “Even a rolling stop or quick glance away from the road can impair your ability to get from Point A to Point B safely,” said Sample. “It’s crucial for drivers to take action to curb this behavior and help make the roadways safer for everyone.”

stop sign
(Photo: Luke van Zyl on Unsplash)

Safe driving tips

Sample offers some strategies behind the wheel to make the roads a safer place for everyone.

Avoid the Phone

Out of sight, out of mind. To resist temptation, put the phone in the glove box or in your purse while driving. Another tactic is to put on the “Do Not Disturb” feature so you won’t receive notifications, alerts, calls or vibrations. It even prevents the phone from lighting up, which often takes your attention from the road. If it’s that important to use your mobile, pull over and put the car in park.

Plan Ahead

Even though going 10 mph over the speed limit doesn’t seem like a big deal, it is. According to the Teen Driving Source at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, going 40 mph in a 30-mph zone creates a 78% increase in collision energy. Plus, it takes longer for the car to stop and affects the driver’s ability to react to changes. Instead of going 10 mph over the speed limit, Sample suggests leaving 10 minutes early to avoid the panic of arriving late.

(Photo: chuttersnap on Unsplash)

Practice Defensive Driving

When driving aggressively, you aren’t paying close attention to others on the road. And, if you aren’t aware, you can’t react appropriately. Sample suggests leaving 1-second of following distance for every 10 mph of speed. He gives the example that when going 55 mph, leave 6 seconds for reaction time.

Although the news isn’t great for safe driving practices, especially for Millennials, this study identifies problem areas and further breaks down the issues by age groups. And only through understanding first, can solutions be found to improve travel safety for everyone.

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