Friday, August 04, 2006

Americans Love Their Vehicles

A recent national poll conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that Americans remain in love with their vehicles and roads – but that the ardor is cooling a bit, largely as a result of congestion.

The poll, conducted June 20-July 16 and interviewing 1,182 people, determined that 69% of those interviewed say they like to drive, down from 79% in a survey done in 1991. Currently 23% say they consider their car “something special -- more than just a way to get around,” compared with the 43% who expressed such views in 1991.

Although recent spikes in gasoline prices might be suspected as the culprit for such attitudinal changes, Pew’s researchers said the largest factor in the changes is traffic congestion, which more and more drivers find a hassle.

Although traffic increasingly appears to be a hassle for drivers, no less than 31% said they think of their car as having a personality, and 27% said they have gone driving “just for the fun of it” in the past week.

In other survey detail:

-- More than 2/3s of drivers say they have sung aloud while driving.
-- About 6 in 10 have talked on a handheld phone while driving.
-- More than 4 in 10 have eaten a meal while driving.
-- 1 out of 6 have combed their hair or applied makeup while driving.
-- And about 6% have read a paper, book or magazine while driving.

Distractions are one of the biggest causes of crashes. We don't need a research report to tell us that those talking on a cell phone while driving are less alert, less aware of their surroundings and more apt to crash than tose who are focused on the driving task.

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