Millennials behind the wheel. It’s a thought that intimidates the older generations – what with the millennial inclination to be texting and driving, or snapping a selfie while cruising the streets. But the truth is, millennials are proving to be safer drivers than their parents, and in more ways than one.
Admittedly, 75 percent of millennials have never changed a tire. They are twice as likely than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers to lack confidence when it comes to simple car maintenance like checking oil levels and gauging tire pressure. And half of all millennials (41.5 million) had a road incident in the year 2016.
But there is one aspect of millennials’ driving habits that shows promise for the generation: they are proving to be very responsible when it comes to drinking and driving, and are less prone to drink-drive than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.
In a survey administered by Beer Canada’s ‘Partners for Safer Communities’ initiative, an impressive 82 percent of British Colombians between the ages of 18 and 34 said they had served as a designated driver at some point in the past three years. In comparison 67 percent of Gen Xers (aged 35 to 54) and 55 percent of Boomers (above 55 years of age) could say the same. The same survey revealed that, for at least 50 percent of the millennials participating, transportation apps like Uber and social media apps helped keep them safe while drinking, compared to 21% of Gen Xers and 18% of Boomers. Fifty-five percent of millennials regularly use transportation apps to plan their nights out and travel home safely when they plan on drinking, while a mere 17 percent of Boomers and 29 percent of the middle-aged group have done this.
Millennials claim the “shame” of being humiliated on social media as a result of drink driving infractions is what helps keep them in control when driving – together with the fact that almost one in three millennials find themselves more like to use social media apps when under the influence and they wish to avoid this regret wherever possible.
Millennials are learning, quicker than their predecessors, that the benefits of remaining sober in social situations far outweigh the negatives. So much so that it’s becoming a faux pas to drink. Rather, millennials would prefer to drink a lime and soda or coconut water on a night out, engage in meaningful, unforgettable conversation with new and interesting people, spend less money and feel all the better for it the following day. According to new research, only one in ten millennials today see getting drunk as “cool” with most considering it outdated and as something “the older generation would do”. Four in ten millennials feel this way because they have an overall negative view of someone who is drunk, with many considering it “pathetic” or “embarrassing”.
A shrinking wallet and a growing number of opportunities to discuss one’s problems with friends, family or professionals rather than “turn to the bottle” to resolve difficulties are some key reasons why this social trend is changing. And it’s changing quickly – 42 per cent of millennials say they’re drinking less alcohol than they were just three years ago. One in five youngsters now admit they are more interested in going sober to a 3-day weekend music festival, in order to avoid passing out or embarrassing themselves as a result of intoxication.
And it’s not only happening in the United States.
Modern men in Japan are less predisposed to drink than their forefathers, too. In a survey by wine website WineBazaar, which interviewed 6,638 Japanese men and women aged 20 to 70 about their drinking habits, a whopping 39.8 percent of men in their 20s turned out to be “non-drinkers”. Today, the national consumption of alcohol is down to 89 per cent of its peak in 1996.
The trend is perplexing to the older generation, for whom partying until dawn and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol was but a necessary means of getting to the top of the corporate ladder. Where drinking with one’s colleagues and filling the club hostess’ pockets with bundles of yen was considered a rite of passage – one that continued until well beyond retirement. A shifting demographic, shrinking paycheck and changing societal values and attitudes are seeing new aged Japanese men going straight home after work to spend time with their families, instead.
A growing knowledge and understanding of the potential dangers of drinking is also deterring millennials from going overboard. The implications of drink-driving and – god forbid – getting caught by the authorities and having to fork out big time to hire a car accident lawyer, let alone having a life threatening accident, are risks so firmly imprinted upon millennials minds as a result of public health initiatives and modern education that they take the role of designated driver very seriously. Well, 95 percent do, at least. In British Colombia, millennials rank the highest when it comes to understanding drinking safely, with 80 percent of them regularly planning ahead when it came to drinking in order to avoid dangerous boozing behaviors.
Millennials attract a lot of negative press and have earned a reputation as narcissistic, spoiled, overprotected and lazy. They have been labelled “the lost generation” for more reasons than one, with documented difficulties in coping with everyday stresses such as structuring time for work, recreation, employment, graduating from college, and dealing with relationships and conflict. But when it comes to responsible drinking, they are outperforming their elders by a longshot, so in this respect let’s hand it to them. Well done.