Seven in Ten Americans Plan on Hitting the Road this Summer

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Grabbing your family or friends, jumping in your car, and hitting the road can be an awesome way to spend a memorable vacation. Whether it’s simply a means of reaching your destination or the journey itself is the goal, road trips offer something for everyone. So it’s no real surprise that seven in ten Americans (71%) anticipate taking at least one road trip this summer.

These are among the findings from a Harris Poll of 2,215 U.S. adults (aged 18 and older) surveyed online from April 15-20, 2015.

On average, Americans who plan to hit the road will be traveling just under 1,300 miles in total. But who is the most likely to take a trip?

  • Millennials are more likely than any other generation to be planning at least one road trip this summer (79% vs. 64% Gen Xers, 68% Baby Boomers, & 68% Matures).
  • Those who have kids in the house are more likely than those who don’t to head out on the road at least once as well (82% vs. 66%, respectively).

Advanced vehicle features: safety hazard or savior?

In today’s world, vehicles have more advanced features to assist us in operation than ever before. With navigation systems that direct us where to go and self-driving capabilities that get us there with little intervention, it’s becoming increasingly likely that either your own vehicle, or another on the road with you, has at least one of these features.

Americans have the most confidence in a blind spot monitor system (when the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots) to increase safety levels as 86% say they would feel safer on a road trip if their own vehicle had this and 83% say they’d feel safer knowing other vehicles on the road with them have this feature. This optimism continues for lane departure warning systems as well, with 84% saying they would feel safer if their vehicle had this and 83% saying the same about other vehicles on the road.

When it comes to perceived safety, adaptive cruise control may have a leg up on traditional. Equal percentages of Americans see adaptive cruise control as providing increased safety during a road trip whether it’s their vehicle with the feature (77%) or another driver’s on the road (76%). Traditional cruise control sees slightly lower numbers, albeit a majority still believes this increases safety on a road trip (62% in their own vehicle vs. 56% in other drivers’ vehicles).

A built-in navigation system is touted by 73% of adults as making them feel “more safe” should the feature be in their own vehicle, with an admittedly smaller majority (62%) indicating the same when the feature is in another driver’s vehicle.

Self-driving capabilities, on the other hand, lack the same safety confidence as displayed for the other vehicle features. While it is true that 42% each say this feature would make them feel more safe whether it were in their vehicle or another, 35% say it would make them feel less safe to have it in theirs and 39% say the same for another driver having such a feature.

Elevating the fun!

Over half of Americans believe a summer road trip would be more enjoyable in a vehicle with the ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot” (55%) or with “infotainment” systems that can connect to smartphones (52%). While they may boost the fun factor on a long trip, what effect do these features have on safety? Americans are nearly split on whether each makes them feel “more safe” or has no impact on their safety during a road trip.

  • Four in ten (40%) say having connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems in their own vehicle would make a road trip “more safe,” while 39% say it would have no impact. Two in ten (21%), however, say it would make them feel “less safe.”
  • Thirty-eight percent say the ability for their own vehicle to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot” would increase their feeling of safety and 40% state no impact. Similar to smartphone connectivity, roughly two in ten (22%) feel this feature would make them feel “less safe.”
  • Vehicles with the ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”: 73% of Millennials say more enjoyable vs. 58% Gen Xers, 41% Baby Boomers, & 35% Matures
  • Vehicles with “infotainment” systems that can connect to smartphones: 73% vs. 53%, 36%, 31%

It may not come as a surprise that Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say these features would make their trip more enjoyable. Parents are also more likely to believe these features would boost the enjoyment of a summer road trip compared to those without kids.

  • Vehicles with the ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”: 70% of those with children in household say more enjoyable vs. 47% of those without
  • Vehicles with “infotainment” systems which can connect to smartphones: 69% vs. 43%

 

TABLE 1

ROAD TRIPS PLANNED

By Generation & Children in HH

“How many road trips do you anticipate taking over the summer (May – August)? Please consider a road trip to be a trip, by car, which includes an overnight stay.”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Children in HH

Millennials (18-36) 

Gen Xers (37-48) 

Baby Boomers (49-67) 

Matures (68+) 

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

0 Trips

29

21

36

32

32

18

34

1+ Trips (NET)

71

79

64

68

68

82

66

1-2 Trips

50

53

53

46

45

57

47

3-4 Trips

14

16

8

15

17

16

14

5+ Trips

7

9

3

8

6

9

6

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 

TABLE 2

ANTICIPATED ROAD TRIP DISTANCE

By Generation & Children in HH

“In total, roughly how many miles do you expect to travel on road trips this summer? Please factor in the combined round trip distance for all the trips you’re anticipating.”

Base: Planning 1+ Summer Road Trips

 

Total

Generation

Children in HH

Millennials (18-36) 

Gen Xers (37-48) 

Baby Boomers (49-67) 

Matures (68+) 

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Under 100

6

8

7

3

3

9

4

100-499

28

31

36

24

17

30

27

500-999

24

24

26

26

20

26

24

1000+

42

37

31

47

60

36

46

MEAN

1287.2

1256.3

931.0

1405.5

1611.4

1203.5

1338.7

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 


 TABLE 3a

IMPACT OF VEHICLE FEATURES ON ROAD TRIP ENJOYMENT

Grid Summary

 “Regardless of whether you plan on taking a road trip this summer, how much impact, if any, do you think each of the following features would have on how enjoyable a summer road trip can be?”

Base: All adults

 

MORE ENJOYABLE (NET)

A great deal more enjoyable

Somewhat more enjoyable

A little bit more enjoyable

No impact

%

%

%

%

%

Vehicles with the ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

55

21

21

13

45

Vehicles with “infotainment” systems which can connect to smartphones

52

18

19

15

48

 

 

TABLE 3b

IMPACT OF VEHICLE FEATURES ON ROAD TRIP ENJOYMENT

Summary of “More Enjoyable (NET)”

By Generation & Children in HH

“Regardless of whether you plan on taking a road trip this summer, how much impact, if any, do you think each of the following features would have on how enjoyable a summer road trip can be?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Children in HH

Millennials (18-36) 

Gen Xers (37-48) 

Baby Boomers (49-67) 

Matures (68+) 

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Vehicles with the ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

55

73

58

41

35

70

47

Vehicles with “infotainment” systems which can connect to smartphones

52

73

53

36

31

69

43

Note: Percentages may not add up exactly to 100 percent due to rounding

 

TABLE 3c

IMPACT OF VEHICLE FEATURES ON ROAD TRIP ENJOYMENT

Summary of “More Enjoyable (NET)”

By Road Trips Planned

“Regardless of whether you plan on taking a road trip this summer, how much impact, if any, do you think each of the following features would have on how enjoyable a summer road trip can be?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Road Trips Planned

None

One or more (NET)

%

%

%

Vehicles with the ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

55

50

57

Vehicles with “infotainment” systems which can connect to smartphones

52

44

54

 

TABLE 4a

SAFETY VALUE OF OWN VEHICLE FEATURES

Grid Summary

“Still thinking about road trips, how much more or less safe would you feel on a road trip if your vehicle had each of the following features?”

Base: All adults

 

MORE SAFE (NET)

Much more safe

Somewhat more safe

LESS SAFE (NET)

Somewhat less safe

Much less safe

No impact

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A blind spot monitor system (i.e., the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots)

86

54

31

3

2

1

11

A lane departure warning system (i.e., the vehicle warns the driver if it senses it is drifting out of a lane)

84

49

35

4

2

2

12

Adaptive cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver but slows down if it comes too close to the vehicle in front of it)

77

43

34

7

4

2

16

A built-in navigation system

73

39

35

5

3

2

21

Traditional cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver)

62

25

38

12

9

3

26

Self-driving capabilities

42

17

25

35

18

17

23

Connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems

40

17

24

21

12

9

39

The ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

38

15

22

22

13

10

40

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 4b

SAFETY VALUE OF OWN VEHICLE FEATURES

Summary of “More Safe (NET)”

By Generation & Children in HH

“Still thinking about road trips, how much more or less safe would you feel on a road trip if your vehicle had each of the following features?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Children in HH

Millennials (18-37) 

Gen Xers (38-49) 

Baby Boomers (50-68) 

Matures (69+) 

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A blind spot monitor system (i.e., the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots)

86

88

80

86

87

87

85

A lane departure warning system (i.e., the vehicle warns the driver if it senses it is drifting out of a lane)

84

88

78

82

88

86

83

Adaptive cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver but slows down if it comes too close to the vehicle in front of it)

77

80

71

77

79

79

76

A built-in navigation system

73

78

71

72

69

77

72

Traditional cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver)

62

62

57

63

68

62

62

Self-driving capabilities

42

48

47

34

37

51

37

Connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems

40

45

46

34

30

47

36

The ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

38

40

41

36

30

46

33

  

TABLE 4c

SAFETY VALUE OF OWN VEHICLE FEATURES

Summary of “More Safe (NET)”

By Road Trips Planned

“Still thinking about road trips, how much more or less safe would you feel on a road trip if your vehicle had each of the following features?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Road Trips Planned

None

One or more (NET)

%

%

%

A blind spot monitor system (i.e., the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots)

86

77

89

A lane departure warning system (i.e., the vehicle warns the driver if it senses it is drifting out of a lane)

84

77

87

Adaptive cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver but slows down if it comes too close to the vehicle in front of it)

77

70

80

A built-in navigation system

73

71

75

Traditional cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver)

62

52

66

Self-driving capabilities

42

38

43

Connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems

40

34

43

The ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

38

35

39

 

TABLE 5a

SAFETY VALUE OF OTHER DRIVERS VEHICLE FEATURES

Grid Summary

“And how much more or less safe would you feel on a road trip knowing other vehicles on the road had each of the following features?”

Base: All adults

 

MORE SAFE (NET)

Much more safe

Somewhat more safe

LESS SAFE (NET)

Somewhat less safe

Much less safe

No impact

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A blind spot monitor system (i.e., the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots)

83

53

30

4

2

1

13

A lane departure warning system (i.e., the vehicle warns the driver if it senses it is drifting out of a lane)

83

51

32

4

3

1

13

Adaptive cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver but slows down if it comes too close to the vehicle in front of it)

76

41

35

8

6

3

16

A built-in navigation system

62

31

31

6

4

2

32

Traditional cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver)

56

21

35

14

11

3

31

Self-driving capabilities

42

19

22

39

21

18

20

Connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems

33

15

18

32

17

15

35

The ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

28

12

16

33

17

16

38

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

 

TABLE 5b

SAFETY VALUE OF OTHER DRIVERS VEHICLE FEATURES

Summary of “More Safe (NET)”

By Generation & Children in HH

“And how much more or less safe would you feel on a road trip knowing other vehicles on the road had each of the following features?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Generation

Children in HH

Millennials (18-37) 

Gen Xers (38-49) 

Baby Boomers (50-68) 

Matures (69+) 

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A blind spot monitor system (i.e., the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots)

83

86

78

85

83

84

83

A lane departure warning system (i.e., the vehicle warns the driver if it senses it is drifting out of a lane)

83

84

79

85

85

84

83

Adaptive cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver but slows down if it comes too close to the vehicle in front of it)

76

78

70

77

77

78

76

A built-in navigation system

62

68

55

60

59

67

59

Traditional cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver)

56

59

50

54

58

58

54

Self-driving capabilities

42

48

41

37

34

48

38

Connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems

33

39

37

28

25

41

29

The ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

28

34

27

26

23

34

26

 

TABLE 5c

SAFETY VALUE OF OTHER DRIVERS VEHICLE FEATURES

Summary of “More Safe (NET)”

By Road Trips Planned

“And how much more or less safe would you feel on a road trip knowing other vehicles on the road had each of the following features?”

Base: All adults

 

Total

Road Trips Planned

None

One or more (NET)

%

%

%

A blind spot monitor system (i.e., the vehicle advises the driver when there are other vehicles in its blind spots)

83

79

85

A lane departure warning system (i.e., the vehicle warns the driver if it senses it is drifting out of a lane)

83

77

86

Adaptive cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver but slows down if it comes too close to the vehicle in front of it)

76

70

79

A built-in navigation system

62

61

62

Traditional cruise control (i.e., the vehicle maintains a speed set by the driver)

56

47

59

Self-driving capabilities

42

40

42

Connectivity between smartphones and vehicle “infotainment” systems

33

30

34

The ability to act as a mobile Wi-Fi “hotspot”

28

27

29

 

 
Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between April 15 and 20, 2015 among 2,215 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #36, June 25, 2015

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll