Nearly nine out of 10 Americans commute to work in a private car – so understanding commuter behavior is essential to understanding car-owner behavior. In April, examined behaviors of commuters nationally and regionally. We collected 1,636 responses representing both a national sample and an even distribution among five major metro areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.  Here’s what we found[i]:

  • The national average commuting time is 21-23 minutes.
  • Eight out of 10 commuters treat their drive as time for relaxation and “me time.”
  • Nearly half the respondents drive to work because of the flexibility driving allows.

The study also revealed some interesting variances in how commuters behave across different metro areas, with drivers in larger cities admitting to feeling more stressed and falling prey to the temptations of distracted driving. For instance, nearly a quarter respondents in Washington, D.C., admitted to being annoyed or angry (23 percent) and fatigued (24 percent) during the commute compared to 15 percent and 13 percent nationally. And 20 percent of Washington, D.C., respondents said they read their smart device while driving compared to 7 percent nationally.

Meanwhile commuters in Atlanta are more likely to text while they drive. And Los Angeles residents, faced with especially lengthy and stressful commuter times, are most likely to give up their vehicle for an autonomous car (41 percent compared to 28 percent nationally).

Dealerships have an opportunity to be informed consultants for driving commuters. Naturally, asking the right questions on the lot will reveal which shoppers are looking for a car to best handle their commute. These kinds of shoppers are going to skew high in urban areas especially where adequate rapid transportation options are lacking. In addition to discussing cars that handle especially well in a congested, gnarly urban commute, salespeople can help shoppers in a number of other ways, such as:

  • Letting them know about tools to help battle the temptation of distracted driving, such as Apple’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” function embedded in iPhones.
  • Helping shoppers know about which vehicles offer the best voice-activated systems, which may be especially attractive to commuters who want to accomplish tasks during their drives and otherwise might be tempted to text.
  • Calling out features such as infotainment systems that enrich the “me time” that commuters say they seek.

Bottom line: the commuter survey illustrates how vehicles support lifestyles. Help commuters find the best match to enrich commuters’ me-time safely. For more insight into the study, check out this recently published press release.


[i] quantitative online survey, April 2018.