While the pandemic cancelled vacation plans in 2020, cooped-up travelers are planning more road trips this year, according to a new national survey from Erie Insurance conducted to support Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April.
More than half of respondents plan to take at least one road trip this year. Another 30% say they would like to but it depends on the status of the pandemic. Of those planning to pack up their car, truck or SUV, more than half plan to travel more than 500 miles from home.
“We commissioned this survey to better understand how the pandemic has impacted road travel, and what distractions are impacting driver safety,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto, Erie Insurance. “Based on data collected, there will likely be more people traveling by car who may be distracted by a number of factors, both inside and outside their vehicle. We want this to serve as a reminder for drivers to be safe and aware on the roads at all times.”
What’s driving this year’s travel trends?
The urge to see family and friends is real. When asked where they plan on going during their road trip, the majority (41%) will visit loved ones while many others are beach-bound (21%) or seeking outdoor adventure at a national park (12%). Most (76%) expect to travel with just one other person, typically their spouse or partner. Write-in destinations included many outdoor, socially spaced locations (likely a reaction from the pandemic), including campsites, lakeside resorts, lodges and cabins to partake in fishing, golfing, hiking and overall sightseeing activities.
More than any other age group, the 65+ crowd expects to travel long distances this year — one-third plan to travel more than 1,000 miles. Reasons why? As the first age group to be fully vaccinated, they may feel safer to travel and are eager to finally hug their adult children and grandchildren again.
Driving distractions to consider when road tripping
Nearly half the respondents (44%) said they are distracted by other passengers in their vehicle when driving. Of those, 40% say children distract them the most, followed by a spouse or significant other.
The greatest distraction for drivers in the three older age groups (45-54, 55-64, and 65+) was their spouses or significant others complaining about their driving skills. In the three younger age groups (18-24, 25-34 and 35-44), their greatest distraction was noisy children.
When asked what distracts them the most while driving, here’s a list of the top five distractions:
- Things I see outside the window
- Cell phone
- Trying to eat or drink
- The radio or music playing
The older the age group, the less distracted drivers are by things inside their vehicle. Drivers 65+, for example, are distracted seven times more by what they see outside than they are by cell phones.
Males and female responded similarly to all distractions except trying to eat and drink and using their phone’s GPS. Nearly twice as many males (23%) are most distracted by trying to eat or drink compared to females (13%), while twice as many females are distracted by their GPS (nearly 7%) compared to males (nearly 4%).