April 09, 2021
How has Covid-19 changed people’s behaviour?
Our colleagues at Volvo Cars USA have explored the changing perception of safety in their latest Volvo Report, Safety First: The Evolution of Driving and Mobility in 2020. The report – in partnership with The Harris Poll – gives insight into the changing nature of Americans' daily commuting routines and the heightened roles vehicles serve in our lives in a pandemic world.
Cars are playing a new role in our lives
In a pre-pandemic world, commuting was a frequent source of stress for drivers. Now Americans see their cars as a 'lifeline,' and ironically admit they miss aspects of their commute to the office. In fact, 63 per cent say that driving helps them relieve stress amidst a life of relative isolation; and 78 per cent agree that cars are now the safest way to get around, compared to public transportation or walking.
About half of new parents surveyed even admitted to utilising their cars as an 'alone zone,' to escape their children and daily stressors.
New meaning of safety
We can all relate to the fact that safety has taken on new meaning and increased importance since the pandemic's onset. Our homes are now our sanctuaries. Our cars take us from place to place, plus they offer us shelter from the outside world. And yet, even in the relative safety of their own car, half of drivers report wearing a mask behind the wheel. This shows how pervasive our current stresses around COVID have become.
This renewed focus on safety is impacting buying behaviours too, with 84 per cent of drivers likely to seek vehicle brands that are trustworthy and known for safety, while transitioning away from 'flashy' car purchases – possibly because they could be perceived as distasteful in the current economic climate.
Looking for new types of vehicle 'safety' features
Americans have expressed an appetite for new built-in safety features that address health and safety post-pandemic. Drivers' wish lists include an air conditioner with built-in germ filtering and sanitisation procedures incorporated within the standard maintenance package.
People also want ways to make masks, sanitiser and disinfectant more accessible. Some consumers crave having a phone sanitiser in the console or a designated place to store a mask in the car.
These findings only scratch the surface. There's more to discover in the survey, including the rise in distracted and reckless driving – despite fewer drivers on the road – and how Gen Z and millennial generations are making major life choices like buying cars and flocking to the suburbs due to the pandemic.
You can read the full report and survey findings here.