Survey Says: Younger Drivers Prone To Get Lost, Frustrated

August 8, 2011
Angry teen driver

Angry teen driver

Today's drivers have access to a multitude of tech tools that make travel easier: in-car GPS, telematics services, smartphone apps, and so on. But a new survey suggests that those tools aren't helping younger drivers keep their cool on the road.

The study comes from marketing firm Galaxy Research, which conducted interviews with 1010 drivers across Australia and uncovered some very interesting trends:

  • Drivers from Generation Y (i.e. people born between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s) are three times more likely to make erratic decisions than those in other peer groups.
  • Fully 20% of Gen Y drivers said that they would duck down a side street rather than get stuck in oncoming traffic. (By contrast, only 6% of Baby Boomers said the same.)
  • One-third of Gen Y drivers say they have a poor sense of direction.
  • Of all peer groups, Gen Y was the most likely to get lost while driving.

What does this mean?

At least one researcher -- Mark McCrindle -- claims that Gen Y's problems are rooted in overstimulation. People from this generation grew up with cable TV and the internet, and they're rabid consumers of social media. According to McCrindle,Gen Yers are bombarded with information, and as a result, they're less able to filter out irrelevant data and focus on what's important -- for example, getting through a clogged intersection. 

The problem is, we hear this sort of argument all the time in a variety of contexts, and we don't fully buy it.

What the report fails to address is Gen Y's lack of driving experience compared to their elders. Sure, some may have short attention spans, but they also haven't been driving nearly as long as their parents or grandparents. It seems logical to believe that Gen Yers are naturally more likely to get lost or stressed while driving.

Another possibility that the study avoids -- and one that seems very plausible -- is that Gen Y drivers in particular have become so dependent on tech toys, they have a hard time making decisions without them. For example, if traffic suddenly changes before the GPS has a chance to catch it, drivers who aren't used to managing such crises could be at a loss.

The Australian Driver Stress Survey might've skipped mentioning that possibility because the study was commissioned by a manufacturer of those very tech toys: Navteq. That fact, paired with pat psychological analyses like McCrindle's, makes us somewhat wary of the survey's final analyses. After all, Navteq stands to benefit a great deal from creating concerns about Gen Y drivers: if Navteq can prove that Gen Y drivers are disadvantaged, it can leverage that data to encourage sales to Gen Y consumers (and their loving parents, of course).

That's not to discount the study entirely -- in fact we have the utmost faith in the stats it uncovered. However, we approach the analysis of those stats with more than a little caution. We recommend you do the same. We also encourage you to check Antony Ingram's suggestions for minimizing stress behind the wheel.  


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