Poll: Seven in ten Americans plan on hitting road this summer

(June 26, 2015) NEW YORK — 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. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

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).

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.

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."

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.


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.