October 2012 update – TUP 2012 results showing distracted drivers holding steady at nine percent.Calling the Shots While Driving the Wagon: Renegades say they should be allowed to text or email while driving
A MetaFacts TUPDate by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst
When you change lanes on the highway, you hope that the guy next to you isn’t a distracted driver looking at his smartphone instead of at the road. Ninety percent of the time, you’d be fine. On the other hand, a recent MetaFacts Technology User Profile survey showed 9% of online Americans agree or strongly agree with this statement: “I should be allowed to text or email while I am driving a car.” Nine percent isn’t 100%, but considering the concentration of people on the road in any ordinary rush hour, that 9% adds up to a lot of road risk.
Who are these renegades? It seems they have a few commonalities, ranging from age, state, and parental status to privacy attitudes. Eighteen percent of 18 to 24-year olds surveyed felt that they should be allowed to text and email while driving, and the concentration of renegades indeed appears to be in the young-uns: that 18% is double the national average. The 25 to 34-year-old group come in second, with 16% wanting to multitask in their vehicles, followed only slightly more slowly by the 35-44 age bracket with 10%. After that, percentages drop down to 5% and lower in older age groups—it seems that most of these rebels get hit with a dose of safety-juice by the time they hit their mid-forties.
Yet, there is something these folks have in common which points to a concern for safety, even coupled with their desire to type and drive, and that is their tendency toward device-security consciousness. 71% of renegades agree: “For security, I do things such as password-protecting my phone or limiting what is stored on it,” compared to the national average of 30%. Is the line between physical safety and the safety of our information becoming blurred, or is this issue just holding the door for better voice-recognition technology?
Are these renegades simply using mobiles for texting or emailing more than average? MetaFacts survey shows the links between age and texting in general, where 18 to 24-year olds top the charts as well. That age group’s attitude about texting while driving reflects this inclination. Mobile emailers, on the other hand, are led in a close race by the 25 to 34-year-old demographic (42% of 25-34-year-olds use their mobile devices for email vs. 37% of 18-24-year-olds and 32% of 35-44-year-olds).
While age seems one of the main things renegades have in common, gender does not appear to be a significant factor in who texts and drives; only slightly fewer women than men surveyed wanted to use their keypad en route (7% and 11%, respectively). But be they men or women, what might tie these people together is a hunger for better, more streamlined technology.
Judging from the types of phones renegades use, it seems their thirst for new technology may be comparable to their need for untimely texting and emailing. 21% of Android users are renegades, followed close behind by 20% of Apple iPhone users and 16% of Blackberry users. This tech-heavy crowd might just be waiting for the right technology to help them send an email in the car, without having to type it out the old-fashioned way.
Clearly, this scary finding implies a need for a shift in the world of smartphones, and mobile companies should take note. While safety-inducing apps exist to render texting and emailing applications defunct while operating a vehicle, they tend to be geared toward the protective parenting set, which make them seem unlikely that they would appeal to the renegade mindset. In that case, better voice-recognition technology ought to be on the forefront of this issue. Some of this technology is already in place, and the renegade wordsmiths on the roads today seem likely to keep up their bad behavior, favoring accessibility and convenience over safety.
This seems as much an issue for marketing as R&D. The demand for voice-activated texting and email for this niche of rebels, with their busy lifestyles and need for constant quick communication, may lie more in the convenience and speed of the new technology rather than its image as a safety feature.
MetaFacts expects the first early adopters for this technology to include several unique and dissimilar segments: ultra-mobile road warriors, tech-savvy soccer moms, hyperactive smartphone users, Twitter addicts, certain ethnic groups, particularly in states enforcing distracted-driver laws. With that as the case, these texting renegades may be leading voice-activated texting and email out of the periphery so that it can, so to speak, take the wheel.
The results in this TUPdate are drawn from the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Survey. Results specific to this topic can be obtained through a customized report and analysis. Or contact MetaFacts for the MetaFacts Technology User Profile Overview Edition report, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically. This edition is for the U.S. based on the 2010 wave of Technology User Profile gathered among a scrupulously selected set of representative respondents, surveyed both online and offline.
To see other research coverage of Internet products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, demographics, and attitudes – see the many other Internet-oriented questions TUP covers on www.technologyuser.com.
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MetaFacts, Inc. is a market research firm focusing exclusively on the technology industries. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, software applications, peripherals, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.