August 3, 2009

A Scarcity of Car Lovers

23%

Only about a quarter of U.S. drivers now say they consider their car “something special — more than just a way to get around,” barely half of the 43% who felt this way in 1991.

Americans’ romance with the automobile seems to be cooling off a bit. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2006 found that just 23% say they consider their car “something special — more than just a way to get around,” barely half of the 43% who felt this way in 1991. About seven-in-ten American drivers (69%) still said they like to drive, but that was down from 79% in a 1991 Gallup survey. While the recent spike in gas prices no doubt contributed to the cooling of the affair, its primary cause appears to be the result of a longer-term trend, the growing hassle of traffic congestion. When asked whether they like to drive or consider it a chore, 69% of drivers in the Pew Research survey said the former, while 28% said the latter. When the “chore” respondents were asked why they felt this way, traffic congestion (23%) and “other drivers” (14%) topped the list of reasons. Just 3% cited the expense. Among the still sizable majority who say they like to drive, the biggest reasons offered were the relaxation (21%), the scenery (19%), the freedom (14%) and the ability to get around (12%). Read More