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Car Sense

Map vs. App: See How Generations Navigate Driving Habits

The survey matter what your age, generations can agree driving is the way to get from point A to point B. The way we’re getting there and what we’re doing while we drive is what differs among generations.

Here’s who we surveyed*:

  • Gen Z: Ages 14-17
  • Millennials: Ages 18-34
  • Gen X:  Ages 35-50
  • Baby Boomers: Ages 51-69

Getting behind the wheel

While there has been some research that shows a declining interest in driving, Erie Insurance found that 89 percent of Gen Zs who don’t have a driver’s license plan to get one, and of those, 96 percent are excited about learning to drive. This mirrors the response from Baby Boomers when they were asked to look back on the time when they began driving.

“This tells us that while there has been some societal shift away from cars, they remain a central part of people’s lives,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto at Erie Insurance. “Many think Millennials don’t care about cars, however, our research suggests otherwise.”

Texting and driving

The survey revealed 6 percent of drivers believe texting and driving is “not a big deal; I do it all the time.” (Yikes!)

Further questions about texting and driving revealed that nearly a third of drivers (31 percent) believe that texting is ok to do when they feel it’s safe.  Here’s how participants in each generation answered this question:

  • Millennials: 44 percent said it’s ok to do when it’s safe
  • Gen Z: 40 percent in this age group thought it was ok
  • Gen X: 35 percent felt they could text and drive when it was safe
  • Baby Boomers: at 13 percent, this age group was the least likely to text and drive when they felt it was safe.

Another alarming fact: 28 percent of Gen Z drivers thought it was ok to text and drive before they actually started driving. This number jumped to 40 percent when we asked Gen Z drivers who were already on the road.

Buckling up

The survey found that seat belt use actually declines with each generation. Nearly all Baby Boomers buckle up when they get in the car (94 percent). Gen Xers buckle up 87 percent of the time, followed by 81 percent of Millennials and only 77 percent of Gen Zs.  Make sure to buckle up, no matter what seat you ride in.

Hesitant to Switch to Auto Pilot

Millennials were most likely to agree to riding in a self-driving car (37 percent), compared to only 15 percent of Baby Boomers. However, neither group said they would fully trust a car that drove itself. Nine percent of respondents think self-driving cars will eliminate car accidents all together. There’s still a little road left to travel on the idea of self-driving cars.

Terms of endearment

Forty percent of current car owners have a nickname for their vehicle. The most popular nicknames are variations of “Baby” and “Betsy.” There were many nicknames inspired by car colors, including blue (Big Blue, Blue Belle and My Bluebird of Happiness) and then red (Big Red, Red Nose and Crimson Typhoon). There could be more nicknames coming, as 50 percent of Gen Z drivers planning to get a car will think about naming it.

Use a map or an app?

Map? Like a paper map? In the age of navigation systems, map apps on smart phones, and the ability to print directions to your destination from your home, almost all generations rarely use paper road maps or ask for directions (2 percent and 1 percent, respectively).

Fifty-three percent of all participants use internet-based apps, 33 percent use in-car navigation systems and 10 percent print out their directions before hitting the road.

Half of Gen Z drivers have never used a paper road map and nearly a third of Millennials have never used one to travel to their destination. On the flip side, 94 percent of Baby Boomers have, but for almost half of them (45 percent), it’s been more than five years.

Check out the infographic below for more survey results and this video to hear different generations share their views on driving and cars.

When it comes to insuring your car, you’ll want to make sure you talk to your ERIE Agent. He or she will make sure your coverage fits your needs, no matter what stage of life you’re in.

*The survey consisted of 2,000 U.S. residents across four generations.

Methodology:  The survey was conducted by Falls Communications on behalf of Erie Insurance from Sept. 28 – Oct. 26, 2017, among 2,147 U.S. residents ages 14-69. Research Now (Plano, TX) administered the survey, via the internet, to its captive U.S. panels. While different sample sizes have different margins of error, the estimated margin of error for the sample size of all 2,147 respondents is +/- 2.1 percent. For additional information, contact Sara Erhartic.

6 Ways Driving Habits Differ by Generation

Driving: Think younger generations aren’t excited about getting their driver’s licenses? Think again. 9 out of 10 teens ages 14 to 17 who don’t yet have a driver’s license are excited to get one.

16% of survey respondents who don’t have a driver’s license don’t want one. Why not? 31% said it’s because they’re nervous about driving or concerned about getting into an accident. 22% said they prefer another kind of transportation. 19% said it’s because they wouldn’t be able to afford a car.

Getting a Car: 85% of millennials who don’t yet have a car plan to get one. 92% of Gen Z who don’t yet have a car plan to get one.

“My next or first car will likely be electric.” Drivers who agreed included 11% of Gen Z; 4% of millennials; 5% of Gen X; and 2% of Boomers.

“The car I drive is important to me as an expression of my personal style and who I am.” Drivers who agreed included 58% of Gen Z; 55% of millennials; 51% of Gen X; and 30% of Boomers.

Safe driving habits: When it comes to driving behaviors, unsafe habits seem to be higher among younger generations.

Texting and driving: 6% of drivers say texting and driving is “no big deal” and they “do it all the time.” 31% of drivers say they sometimes do it when they feel they can do it safely. Percentages are highest for Millennials and Gen Z. Drivers who agree with the statement, “I never do it, it’s dangerous,” include 51% of Gen Z; 44% of millennials; 59% of Gen X; and 86% of Boomers.

Seatbelts: Seatbelt use is going down – the younger you are, the less likely you are to always wear them. “I always wear a seatbelt.” Drivers who agree: 94% Boomers; 87% Gen X; 81% Millennials; 77% Gen Z.

Nicknaming: 40% of current drivers give their car a nickname. 60% of current drivers don’t give their car a nickname. The most popular car names are variations on “Baby,” such as My Baby, Baby Girl, Baby Vader, or Babe; and “Betsy,” such as Betsie, Bessie, Bessy, Old Bessie, Bessi, and Betty.

Navigating: When it comes to getting around, what generations are depending on maps vs. apps? Of survey respondents: 53% rely on apps; 33% use in-car navigation systems; 10% print the directions from a computer; 2% use paper road maps; and 1% ask someone for directions. 51% of Gen Z and 31% of millennials have never used a paper road map. 94% of Baby Boomers have used a paper road map, but of them, 45% said it’s been more than 5 years.

Popular ways to pass the time on a long car ride: 82% listen to music; 28% play electronic games or videos; 18% play the license plate game; 17% listen to audio books; 16% play 20 questions.

Autonomous cars: A fully autonomous car is described as one where you get in and tell it where you want to go and the car does all the driving. Millennials are most excited about this, while Gen Z is cautious and Boomers are most negative. 53% of Gen Z agrees with the statement, “I’m nervous about being transported in one; would want to wait a few years to see how they perform before getting in one.” 37% of Millennials agree with the statement, “I’d love to be transported in a fully autonomous car.” 85% of Boomers agree with the statement, “I am nervous about being transported in one or I would never trust a car that totally drives itself.” 16% of drivers think autonomous vehicles will eliminate the need for car insurance. 58% of those say it’s because there will no longer be car accidents.

To learn more about auto insurance at Erie Insurance, go to

Methodology:  The survey was conducted by Falls Communications on behalf of Erie Insurance from Sept. 28 – Oct. 26, 2017, among 2,147 U.S. residents ages 14-69. Research Now (Plano, TX) administered the survey, via the internet, to its captive U.S. panels. While different sample sizes have different margins of error, the estimated margin of error for the sample size of all 2,147 respondents is +/- 2.1 percent.

A national survey of more than 2,000 U.S. residents across four generations reveals some surprising differences toward cars and driving. /blog/multi-gen-car-survey Erie Insurance

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