Millennials are statistically the worst drivers, and I'm not making us look any better

Red lights happen to provide the best selfie lighting.
By: 
Feb. 21, 2017

Last week, an email was for- warded to me that might offend some of my peers. The subject read “AAA: Millennials are the Worst Drivers, New Study Finds.” My non-millennial col- league, Wayne Grant, CC’d me and my editor with a note saying, “Column for Emily?” I’m not sure if that was meant as a com- mentary on my own driving.

According to the study, 88% of people between the ages of 19 and 24 engaged in at least one risky behavior behind the wheel in the past 30 days. Texting while driving, red-light running and speeding earned us the coveted spot of worst behaved U.S. driv- ers. Way to go, team.

Looking back on my recent driving activity, I scored 1/3 on using those behaviors. I drive like an overly cautious 15-year- old who’s too afraid to pass any- one, and one time I actually got pulled over for going too slow, so speeding isn’t my issue. And my mom has sent me so many articles about drivers getting hit at busy intersections that to me, the yellow light means “stop now before you get T-boned.” But when it comes to texting while driving, I do have some experience.

First of all, for millennials, it’s not just texting while driving. It’s answering emails, opening
a Snapchat, taking a Snapchat, changing my music, writing down random thoughts I have before they go away, and, in some of my hangry moments, placing an order for a steak bur- rito at Chipotle.

In some ways, I blame my behavior on my phone. It’s so pretty and shiny and can do so many cool things that I never want to put it down. But honestly, it comes down to the fact that I have a serious case of FOMO, or fear of missing out.

When someone sends me a text, I want to reply to it right away or I’m afraid they’ll think I’m ignoring them. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have a bad habit of opening things and forgetting to respond, which results in an intervention-style group chat where everyone tells Emily what a bad friend she is.

This fear also comes into play with my job. If I don’t respond to a text, email or phone call with a lead for a story, someone else might beat me to the punch, or the contact I’ve made might feel like I don’t think their story is high on my list of priorities. Terrible way of thinking, but it happens.

We live in a world where everything is “now.” Instant gratification is the name of game, and waiting feels like the end of the world. At this point, I don’t know if I was born an impatient person or if society has just groomed me to be like this. Either way, I should take more responsibility.

The moment of reform came when I realized that the only way I’ve ever be able to stay off my phone when I’m driving is when it’s out of reach. Like, literally under the passenger seat of my car. So when I’m getting ready to put my Corolla in drive, I now make sure I’ve got my music lined up and any GPS assistance ready to go, and then I throw that bad boy away. Out of sight, out of mind.

Well, when I hear my phone ringing and alerts going off, it’s definitely on my mind. But I tell myself it’s not going to hurt any- thing to wait 15 minutes to check it, and I’m at more of a risk to hurt someone if I do it now.

So, never fear, Ormond drivers: This millennial is not texting. That makes one of us...