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Mental load on UK drivers

Where's your head at?

Mental load on UK drivers revealed by new AA research

17 August 2018

Life-admin, the future, money and meal planning are all piling a mental load on the UK’s drivers as new AA research* reveals what they really think about behind the wheel. 

  • A third (30%) of drivers said they only think about driving when they are behind the wheel
  • Just 14% of 18-24-year-olds and 11% of 25-34-year-olds think only about driving when they are behind the wheel
  • The over-65’s were the best at keeping their concentration with 45% saying they only think about driving and navigation

Summer

Men vs women

There was also a marked difference in the things that play on men and women’s minds when driving, with women more likely than men to think about childcare, work and life-admin behind the wheel.

Which of the following, if any, do you regularly think about when driving?
Subject All Men Women
Arriving on time 49% 45% 57%
Work 34% 31% 39%
Planning for the future 25% 23% 28%
Money 22% 21% 24%
Life admin 22% 19% 28%
Your social life 22% 21% 22%
Relationships 18% 17% 22%
Meal planning 17% 11% 27%
Car admin 13% 13% 13%
DIY 13% 15% 9%
Breaking down 12% 11% 13%
Your child (ren’s) social life 9% 8% 12%
Housework 7% 4% 13%
Your child (ren’s) social life 9% 8% 12%
Childcare arrangements 4% 3% 6%
Other 5% 5% 6%
I only think about driving 30% 34% 21%

 

Regional differences
  • Londoners are most likely to think about arriving on time (52%)
  • Welsh drivers are the most likely to think about future planning (27%), and
  • Those in the West Midlands are most preoccupied with money (25%)

Edmund King, AA President, said: “The AA app** can help with your car admin and our Car Genie*** can help stop worries about breaking down; but there’s not much we can do about childcare or work worries. 

“Of course it’s important that drivers focus on the task in hand and pay attention to the road, but our research shows how cars can provide a haven for drivers from their busy lives. 

So long as your thoughts aren’t so demanding that they overwhelm your ability to concentrate on the road then there is nothing wrong with a bit of thinking time in the car
Edmund King, president of the AA

“Being in the drivers’ seat gives them the opportunity to think about arrangements and plans without always being interrupted by others.

“The difference across the age groups is probably a reflection of how learning to manage your own concentration is one the hardest things for new drivers to grasp post-test. 

So long as your thoughts aren’t so demanding that they overwhelm your ability to concentrate on the road then there is nothing wrong with a bit of thinking time in the car.” 


* Populus surveyed 16,307 AA members in its online poll between 17-24 April 2018. 

** AA App is available on Google Play and the App Store. It helps drivers manage their car admin as well as enabling members to report a breakdown and access special offers. 

***The AA’s Car Genie acts like a car fitness app to alert drivers, via push notifications, to early fault codes and warning lights from their car. It also lets them see their battery health and driving performance. 

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