InTrans / Feb 08, 2016

What being a millennial means when it comes to safety

Go! Magazine

Man seated at a steering wheel.

I am a millennial, and I’m in trouble.

I and the rest of us born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s—otherwise known as Generation Y—are facing some new challenges.

College loan debt, for one, roughly averages $35,000 per student now (depending on the type of school and how long it takes to graduate). Millennials, or recent graduates, everywhere are clamoring for a job right out of college and jumping head first into an unsure job market to pay off what they owe.

It’s no wonder I keep seeing “Bernie 2016” posters strung across campus. Some students are settling for unpaid internships just to get their foot in the door and hoping the next president elect can help them out.

I myself have some regret over living in the on-campus apartments, rather than saving money by commuting to Iowa State University every day. How many other students are battling with the same decision? Do I really want to put myself and my car on high-traffic roads five days a week, just to save some dollars?

But here is what I am getting at, and this may not be a huge surprise: Millennials are dangerous drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the total 32,719 traffic fatalities in 2013, Americans age 16–34 accounted for 12,011 of those deaths. Of those, 2,908 were not wearing their seatbelts.

There are too many drivers on our roads for mistakes not to happen—cars are dangerous, and roads can become slick while vision can be impaired in winter weather.

Zero Fatalities, a media campaign of the Iowa Department of Transportation, was created because of this and in turn attempts to provide as much awareness to drivers as possible.

But I couldn’t help but wonder if Zero Fatalities’ goal was achievable in the slightest.

I didn’t necessarily wonder if it’s possible for them to abolish any future accidents from ever occurring, but rather if it’s possible for us to receive their message.

For millennials, most of the tools campaigns like Zero Fatalities use to decrease traffic fatalities are aimed at us. Facebook and Twitter updates, often topped with funny jokes or puns, are undoubtedly targeted at young adults.

Even when our minds may be, at times, focused on other things—our speed, a new text message, or the one beer we had an hour ago—we have to understand our responsibilities as young drivers.

The sad thing is that the number of traffic deaths per year keeps growing.

In my part of Iowa, on my campus, I remember one particular accident. Her name was Emmalee Jacobs, and she was an 18 year old student. She was struck by a bus while crossing the street.

As a millennial in college, like many others, I often feel like I have too much to do and too many places to be. Getting work done on time, getting enough sleep, and exercising are all struggles that I’m not yet used to dealing with, and I know I’m not alone.

When we have too many of these abstract worries, I think we tend to forget about more concrete things, like our safety. I sometimes catch myself driving too fast, or wanting to look at a text message behind the wheel (I don’t like the voice in my car that reads my texts to me via Bluetooth), or failing to make sure the street is safe before I cross it.

I do these things though, because I’m not paying attention to what’s in front of me; I’m too worried about everything else.

Things like deadlines, insecurities, or an occasional bad grade can really impede on our happiness. Being happier helps us enjoy life more, and therefore makes us worry more about our safety.

As for worrying about the deadlines, insecurities, and the occasional bad grade? Some advice I’ve taken is just to take it one day at a time, because that’s all you can do.

By Alex Larson, Go! Intern

Go! Magazine Article Index