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Are young adults really less responsible?

Are young adults responsible?

Americans may have a mental image of reckless, irresponsible teens speeding down highways, making poor life choices and ignoring financial responsibilities. But is this perception of youth accurate?

As it turns out, when it comes to two "grown-up" responsibilities -- being a safe driver and having renters insurance -- young adults' attitudes and habits are not much different from more experienced adults.

"People can be responsible and irresponsible at any age," said Amy Bach, executive director at United Policyholders, an advocacy organization for insurance consumers.

Are young drivers reckless?

Twenty-one percent of adults reported receiving a ticket for a moving violation in the past five years, according to a recent survey done by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and commissioned by Adults aged 30 to 49 were most likely to receive a ticket, while only a quarter of adults who received tickets were 18 to 29.

More than half of the people who received a ticket in the last five years only received one. However, 20 percent of adults ages 18 to 29 did live up to the "reckless" reputation by collecting four or more tickets in the past five years.

See also: 1-in-5 American got at least one traffic ticket in the past 5 years

Young adults do not make up the largest percentage of tickets in any of the 12 moving violation categories surveyed, including speeding, driving without a seat belt, failure to stop at a stop sign or red light, and failing to yield.

The most common ticket was for speeding. People ages 50 to 64 reported the highest percentage of speeding tickets, though they beat out the youngest adult drivers by only 1 percent (70 percent versus 69 percent).

Drivers of any age should beware of insurance rate increases after getting a speeding ticket. According to an study, your car insurance premium could increase 28 percent on average for speeding 16 to 30 mph over the limit.

Millennials and their homes

millennials lack renters insurance

Purchasing insurance is another responsibility that many believe millennials ignore. However, the survey shows young adults are in fact more likely to have renters insurance than many of their older peers. Young adults are the largest population of renters in the survey; 60 percent of millennials reported renting their home. And 38 percent of those renters reported having renters insurance.

Karrol Kitt, an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin, believes the concentration of young adult renters near universities contributes to the rate of young adults with renters insurance.

"Most apartment complexes now stipulate that renters must present a renters policy for them to rent the apartment," Kitt says. "Perhaps older adults have longer tenure where they are renting and were not required to have coverage initially."

When asked why a renter has skipped insurance, the No. 1 reason used by renters of all ages is that their home has good security that protects their belongings. Nearly 60 percent of all renters without insurance cited "good security" as an important reason they do not have insurance.

Young adults are the least likely age group to say that they do not have renters insurance because it is too expensive. While 53 percent of adults on average over the age of 30 say renters insurance is too expensive, only 32 percent of young adults consider this an important reason for their decision.

Where their age and inexperience truly does show is in their understanding of renters insurance. While only 23 percent of older adults on average said they do not understand how renters insurance works, 37 percent of the youngest adults said this is an important factor in their decision for not having insurance. Nearly 1 in 4 young adults without renters insurance don't know where to get it.

If this sounds all too familiar, you can shop and compare insurance quotes with your agent or on websites such as

"Renters insurance is actually a bargain for what you get," says Bach, "but it just doesn't occur to most people to buy it."

See also: Renters across U.S. are underinsured

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