Generations with the Best and Worst Drivers 2020

Every generation is associated with a slew of stereotypes, whether accurate or not. But when it comes to driving, how does each generation measure up?

The vast majority of drivers on the road today consist of four different generations: Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. Quite a litany of age-based tropes and stereotypes have made their way into popular culture, including beliefs based on how each generation drives. While older drivers view younger ones as aggressive and imprudent, older drivers tend to be considered too slow, too cautious, and inattentive. Many buy into these driving-related generalizations, but how true are they really? 

Curious to uncover whether the seemingly age-old adage that both the youngest and most elderly drivers are always the worst, Insurify’s data scientists turned to their database and ranked each generation based on their driving behavior. 

Methodology 

The data scientists at Insurify, an insurance quotes comparison website, referred to their database of over 2 million insurance applications to determine which generation has the worst drivers. 

Insurance applications were split into four cohorts, based on age: drivers born between 1946 and 1964, considered the “Boomer” generation, drivers born between 1963 and 1980, considered “Gen X,” drivers born between 1981 and 1996, considered “Millennials,” and finally drivers born between 1997 and 2004, considered “Gen Z”. Generational parameters for this study are derived from the Pew Research Center’s definition of each generation. 

When applying for insurance, drivers disclose information such as their age and driving history, including past accidents and driving infractions. For each cohort, Insurify’s data scientists calculated the proportion of drivers with a moving violation and at-fault accident on their record. The group with the highest percentage of drivers with an infraction on their record was awarded the dubious distinction of the generation with the worst drivers. 

Insights 

  • How well do we drive as a nation? Across motorists of all ages in the United States, 22.75 percent have at least one moving violation on their record and/or have been found at-fault for an accident. The average proportion of speeding drivers across all ages is 10.65 percent, while the average DUI rate is 1.81 percent.
  • Speed demons: By far, the most common moving violation among all generations in the United States is speeding. This offense is more than 6 times more prevalent than DUIs, 11 times more prevalent than running red lights, and a whopping 68 times more prevalent than reckless driving. 
  • Is drunk driving decreasing among young people? Drunk driving violations among young people seem to have dropped significantly. In fact, Gen Z has the lowest proportion of DUIs compared to all other generations of drivers. Compared to Gen Z drivers, Millennials are nearly three times as likely to have been convicted of a DUI, Gen X drivers are twice as likely, and even Boomers are 10 percent more likely. Note that a vast amount of research indicates that drinking age laws have not prevented Americans under 21 from drinking. In fact, according to the US Department of Justice, 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States is by persons aged 12 to 21. 

The Generations ranked from the Best Drivers to the Worst Drivers 

4. Boomers (1946-1963)

  • Drivers with an infraction or at-fault accident on their record: 15.25% 
  • Drivers with a speeding ticket on their record: 4.6%
  • Drivers with a DUI: 1.01%

Insurify’s analysis reveals Boomers as the best drivers in America. Younger generations might disparage Boomers for their alleged lack of know-how when it comes to technology, politics, and current events (whether warranted or not), but there’s no question that these drivers come out on top when it comes to safe driving. Most notably, Boomers tend to be significantly more prudent on the roads than their younger counterparts: the proportion of speeding tickets among Boomers is less than half the national average. In fact, Millennial- and Gen Z drivers are three times more likely to have a speeding ticket on their records than Boomers.

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3. Gen X (1964-1980)

  • Drivers with an infraction or at-fault accident on their record: 18.80%
  • Drivers with a speeding ticket: 7.87%
  • Drivers with a DUI: 1.76%

Gen X drivers are middle-of-the-road when it comes to good driving behavior; with infraction rates that are neither notably high or notably low, the ‘Silent Generation’ seems to live up to its name and reputation. Infraction rates for Gen X drivers tend to fall closer to the national average than do infraction rates of all other generations. Specifically, when it comes to speeding, Gen X drivers differ from the national average by only 2.78 percent. Gen X drivers are also on par with the national average in rates of drunk driving convictions, differing only by 0.05 percent. Gen Xers have approximately twice as many reckless drivers as Boomers, but this proportion is only about half that of Millennials and Gen Zers.

2. Gen Z (1996-2004)

  • Drivers with an infraction or at-fault accident on their record: 25.37%
  • Drivers with a speeding ticket: 13.98%
  • Drivers with a DUI: 0.91%

Gen Z drivers, despite being the youngest on the roads, do not have the worst driving behavior in America. According to the data, America’s youngest drivers perform better than Millennials across nearly all categories. Overall, Gen Z drivers have nine-tenths of the infractions and at-fault accidents that Millennials do. It’s also practically 3 times less common for Gen Z drivers to drive drunk than Millennials. In fact, it may be shocking to learn that Gen Z drivers seem to be the most prudent when it comes to drunk driving: these young drivers have the lowest drunk driving rates of all generations.

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1. Millennials (1981-1996)

  • Drivers with an infraction or at-fault accident on their record: 27.31%
  • Drivers with a speeding ticket on their record: 13.60%
  • Drivers with a DUI: 2.53%

Millennials are the worst drivers in the United States, according to Insurify’s analysis. Millennials have by far the highest rates of infractions and at-fault accidents on their record compared to all other generations. Despite having about the same proportion of speeding tickets as Gen Z drivers, Millennials have by far the highest rates of DUIs out of any other generation. This generation is also the most likely to run a red light, and the most likely to be charged with reckless driving. Specifically, Millennials are more than twice as likely to blow through red lights than Gen X drivers and Boomers and are 15 percent more likely than Gen Z drivers. They have nearly five times as many reckless driving convictions as Boomers, and two and a half times as many as Gen X drivers. Without question, Millennials are the most dangerous drivers on the road.

If you have questions or comments about this article, please contact insights@insurify.com.

Updated February 12, 2020

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 2.5 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week. See Insurify Insights as featured in Forbes, Fox News, USA Today, NPR, and more.