August 1, 2006

Americans and Their Cars: Is the Romance on the Skids?

III. Things We Do While Driving

FigureAs they spend more and more time in their cars, Americans report that they do an impressive – perhaps even scary — range of activities while driving. Nearly seven-in-ten drivers (68%) use their time behind the wheel to sing out loud. About six-in-ten (58%) report talking on a handheld phone while driving, a practice that some states have outlawed due to safety concerns. Roughly four-in-ten (41%) say they have eaten a meal while driving and nearly as many (38%) report having shouted or cursed at other drivers in the past year. Other behaviors are less common — 16% of drivers have done some personal grooming while driving, 6% have combined reading and driving and 6% have fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past year.

Drivers in the younger age categories (18 to 49 years) are more likely than older drivers to combine driving with singing, phone calls, eating, and cursing at other drivers. And female drivers are more likely than male drivers to break into song or take care of personal grooming. Meantime, drivers in the northeast are more likely to report cursing at other drivers than are those in other regions.

FigureDespite the dip in enthusiasm for driving, and even with gas prices hovering around $3 a gallon, more than a quarter (27%) of all drivers (24% of all Americans) say they have gone driving “just for the fun of it” in the past week. Younger adults are more likely than older ones to have done so. Also, there’s more joy riding in rural areas than in cities or suburbs. Men and women are about equally likely to have done some driving just for the fun of it. Not surprisingly, those who like driving are more likely than those who consider it a chore to have done this kind of recreational driving.

Cite this publication: . “Americans and Their Cars: Is the Romance on the Skids?.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (August 1, 2006) http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2006/08/01/americans-and-their-cars-is-the-romance-on-the-skids/, accessed on July 23, 2014.