Americans’ Top Concerns for Summer Car Travel
(And How to Maximize Safety on the Road)
Americans are driving less since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The need to drive plummeted in the spring with schools, gyms, and restaurants under lockdown, and nearly one third of the population working from home. But now that summer is in full swing and states have eased into reopening, drivers are hitting the roads for travel and recreation.
A national survey of drivers found that the majority of Americans have noticed a surge in traffic in recent weeks. City and suburban dwellers are replacing international travel and theme park visits with interstate road trips and socially-distanced entertainment. Indeed, taking the highways and scenic routes to avoid crowded airports, bus stations, and train stations is a wise decision during the pandemic. But before you reach for the car keys, take a look at what you can expect to encounter
on the roads — and how to drive safer and smarter while navigating them.
Nationwide Survey Reveals Spike in Traffic and Speeding
The Cedar Electronics Smart Driving Index surveyed Americans nationwide to uncover their plans for road travel and new safety concerns while driving. Roughly one quarter of respondents said they will drive to their vacation destination, taking road trips ranging from 2-7+ hours. The actual numbers will likely be higher as another 30% are still undecided on vacation plans, indicating that more people are making last-minute decisions about travel since reopening began.
A majority (77%) say they’ve already encountered more drivers on the road, particularly in the South. And one in three (32%) observed an increase in speeding. Busy roads filled with hotfoot drivers are a natural cause for concern, and one in three drivers (33%) also say they are more worried about safety behind the wheel post-COVID.
Data from the Cedar road awareness apps supports the survey data. Part of our Drive Smarter cloud-based driver alert and community platform, our apps experienced a 218% increase in driver alerts from April to June 2020 and a 69% year-over-year increase. This reflects an undeniable increase in drivers on the roads post-COVID, reporting road hazards, speed traps, and more.
Drivers’ Top Pandemic Road Safety Concerns
Surprisingly, nearly half (46%) of Gen Z respondents cite road safety concerns, more than any other generation. Defying stereotypes of reckless youth, Gen Z drivers are taking precautions to not only avoid the virus, but also avoid accidents and incidents caused by driver distraction, road rage, traffic, and more.
Of course, millennials, Gen X, and boomers, also reported concerns about road safety this summer. Overall, drivers’ top fears and frustrations include:
- Other drivers being distracted (48%)
- Reckless driving and/or road rage (40%)
- Unexpected incidents (29%)
- Traffic & congestion (26%)
Why We’re All Getting Behind the Wheel, From Gen Z to Boomers
Despite safety risks, Americans are still taking to the open road for their summer escapes. Even though they reported more concerns, Gen Z is especially eager to travel by car, with 42% planning road trips in the next three months, 10% more than the average American. Millennials don’t trail far behind (36%). For both groups, the majority (60%) of those taking road trips specifically opted to drive over other modes of transportation they would normally take, including planes, trains, and buses.
The top motivation for driving varies by generation. Nearly two thirds (61%) of Gen Z drivers surveyed are excited by the ability to cover more ground and see more sights by car. Millennials report that they truly enjoy driving more than flying or trains. Gen X is largely driven (44%) by a desire for safety amidst the pandemic. And 67% of boomers like that driving puts them in control of their own pace and schedule while traveling.
Regardless of age, drivers share several common motivations for traveling more by car. Like boomers, 61% of Gen Z drivers and 55% of all drivers also relish the freedom and autonomy of car travel. And beyond being able to set your own timetable and itinerary, 50% of those surveyed said driving is simply more convenient. The desire for safety also crosses generations, with 42% aiming to social distance and avoid typically crowded travel hubs where they have a higher likelihood of contracting or spreading the virus.
Car Tech Empowers Drivers to Make Better Decisions
Despite higher rates of car travel and heightened concerns on the road, one in two Americans (49%) don’t use any car tech to increase safety. It’s not because they don’t see the value in safe driving technology: 48% agree that a crowd-sourced road awareness app would help them stay informed and prepared while driving. And the majority are interested in receiving information about traffic, police activity, and emergency notifications about accidents and hazards while driving.
Driver safety and awareness technology has advanced well beyond the glitchy GPS systems and old school radar detectors of the past. Americans hitting the road this summer can benefit from advanced dash cams, sensor-based driver alert systems, and crowdsourced road awareness apps that are easily available today.
To soothe anxiety behind the wheel and encourage smarter, safer driving, Cedar Electronics CEO Gail Babitt offers the following tips:
Use a dash cam.
Record all interactions with your vehicle and be prepared for the unexpected with crystal-clear video evidence of any incidents. Devices in the new Cobra Smart Cam Series, available at retail this August, offer sharp video capture that’s easily shareable, along with quick, reliable connectivity capabilities to connected cars and mobile hotspots that enable automatic emergency Mayday alerts, remote surveillance and notifications. Now available at a variety of price points, today’s dash cams help drivers keep themselves and their vehicles safe wherever, whenever.
Install sensor-based driver alert solutions.
Combine machine-generated alerts with crowdsourced alerts for information you can trust to help you drive safer. The survey found that most drivers (60%) would be interested in receiving emergency notifications about road events and conditions while driving. Used alongside navigation apps like Waze, today’s connected driver alert systems like the ESCORT MAX 3 can verify and validate road alerts for the ultimate peace of mind.
Turn to a crowdsourced road awareness app.
The free Cedar road awareness apps provide access to over 100 million vehicle-to-vehicle alerts annually from speed traps to red light cameras to help drivers stay informed on the roads. Survey respondents consider information about traffic to be most helpful, followed by accidents and road hazards. In addition, Gen Zers are 3X more likely than Baby Boomers to consider notifications about police activity helpful.
Drive Smarter for Safe Summer Travel
Before you take to the roads this summer, prepare yourself to safely navigate the traffic, hazards, and speeding fellow drivers you’re sure to encounter.
Driver awareness technology can empower you to make smart decisions that lead to a safer driving experience, so you won’t have to put the brakes
on summer travel plans.
Visit Cobra.com to learn more about today’s most powerful dash cams, and find sophisticated driver alert systems at EscortRadar.com.