It’s a common scenario: drivers eating, texting, talking on the phone, taking care of personal grooming, or even reading while on the road. Loosely termed “distracted driving,” it includes any activity drivers engage in when they’re behind the wheel, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A recent AutoLoop study identified the most common of those activities among morning commuters while driving. With a remarkable 48% of survey participants qualifying as distracted drivers, we discovered that 25% ate breakfast, 17% checked Facebook and 13% of commuters used the drive time to read the news on their phone. Others made purchases, brushed their teeth, shaved, put on makeup, even changed their clothes–and a full 5% actually put in their contact lenses while en route.
Scary statistics–but surprising opportunities
Although our current findings might motivate some to start seriously considering public transportation, they also provide unique opportunities for dealers. Ironically, even as drivers try to make the maximum use of their drive time through constant multitasking, they are also simultaneously seeking vehicles with more features to help them stay safer on the road. This, in turn, gives dealers an ideal place to start trade-up conversations during in-person visits.
Safety features: better technologies for worsening trends
While interest in safety features overall has increased, blind spot warning alerts, lane departure warnings, and voice control are among the most popular in-vehicle technologies sought by recent buyers. Dealerships can take full advantage of this rising interest not only to showcase those particular features but also to highlight the many other safety capabilities in new models—and compare those to the customer’s current vehicle. Dealers should also help prospective buyers understand how these latest enhancements, although never a substitute for good driving practices, can certainly help drivers be safer on the road, especially those who are less experienced. Ideally, these conversations will raise awareness of distracted driving and its potential impacts while increasing your bottom line.
Doug Van Sach
VP of Strategy & Analytics