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Young drivers not alone in taking unnecessary risks

Teen drivers across Washington and the United States get a bad rap for taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel and failing to obey the rules of the road. However, the Seattle Times reports that a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study involving 2,511 motorists has revealed that many drivers largely thought to engage in safer driving practices are also skirting the law.

For example, the study found that drivers in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s are actually more likely than motorists between the ages of 16 and 18 to text behind the wheel, run through red lights or travel above posted speed limits. However, teen drivers were more likely than those between the ages of 40 and 59 to use handheld, as opposed to hands-free, communicative devices while driving.

The study also revealed that American motorists of all ages are somewhat contradictory in their beliefs and behaviors. More than 95 percent of the motorists surveyed said they considered driving while fatigued to be highly dangerous, and yet nearly 30 percent confessed to recently driving when they could barely keep their eyes open. Additionally, more than 75 percent of motorists surveyed believe that sending an email or text message while operating a car is unacceptable. However, more than 30 percent of that same group confessed to doing one or the other within the last 30 days.

Many of the risky behaviors drivers in the study admitted to doing are considered acts of distracted driving, and NBC Right Now reports that distracted-driving-related accidents in Washington went up more than 30 percent between 2014 and 2015. The surge in accidents and associated fatalities has some state lawmakers proposing new bills aimed at reducing distracted driving in an effort to save lives.