Millennials Most Likely to Drive Distracted

Young drivers in the U.S. more likely to use smartphones, multi-task while behind the wheel
A distracted driver

Studies have shown that auto insurance companies tend to charge younger, less experienced drivers higher rates. That might not change anytime soon, a new survey suggests, as millennial drivers appear more likely to have dangerous driving habits than older groups.

Liberty Mutual Insurance conducted a global study of drivers to see what types of activities they engaged in while behind the wheel. They collected data from 8,010 drivers in the United States and the Western European countries of France, England, Ireland, Spain and Portugal. What they learned is that millennial drivers across the world are more likely to use their smartphones when driving, and U.S. millennials are leading the trend.

Most millennial drivers in the U.S. — 86% — admitted to having used their phones while driving. In comparison, 72% of Gen Xers and 49% of baby boomers said they’ve used a phone while behind the wheel. U.S. millennial drivers also surpass their Western European peers in phone usage, as a slightly milder 73% of Western European millennials reported using the phone while driving.

Phone conversations aren’t the only activity drivers are engaging in with their devices: More than half of millennials (53%) have sent emails or texts while driving, compared to 36% of Gen Xers and 11% of boomers. One-third of millennials (33%) have even used social media apps while driving, as have 15% of Gen Xers and 3% of boomers.

A majority of millennials also appear to consider the car to be a good place to focus on other day-to-day activities, with 63% confessing to “multi-tasking” while driving, engaging in such distracting behaviors as eating and applying makeup. Older generations were also less likely to do this, with 54% of Gen Xers and 37% of boomers saying they multitask while driving.

Nearly half of millennial respondents (47%) likewise said they sometimes drive aggressively, compared to just 22% of baby boomers.

Americans in general appear to be more dangerous drivers than those in Western Europe, the study found. Approximately 47% of U.S. drivers copped to potentially dangerous habits such as speeding and multi-tasking, compared to 39% of Western European drivers.

Furthermore, 38% of respondents from the U.S. said they speed regularly, compared to only 30% of respondents from Western Europe.

Many of those questioned blamed their hurried driving on running late, saying they sometimes drive faster in order to make up for lost time. In fact, 51% of U.S. drivers said they sped, and 23% admitted to failing to stop at a stop sign because they were late to something.

Distracted driving is not only dangerous but it can be costly — after all, causing an accident could make your car insurance bill rise.

Car insurance can take up a sizable portion of your household budget, yet it is a cost that can be controlled to some extent. For example, you could qualify for lower rates if you have a safe driving record or if you bundle your auto insurance with home insurance. You can also compare auto insurance quotes to find the best deal — though regardless of which provider you go with, a history of safe driving will very likely get you a lower price.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

Comments and Questions