As part of its commitment to understand and address driver safety, Goodyear probed the road behaviour of 6 400 drivers under the age of 25. The survey covered 16 markets (South Africa plus 15 European countries) and was designed to get inside the brain of the young driver and provide some interesting insight into youth on the road.
“Understanding driver behaviour assists Goodyear in its commitment to safety and helping people feel good on the road,” explained Lize Hayward, Goodyear South Africa Group Brand Communications Manager. “Our study was specifically designed to explore a wide range of factors from driver training through to general concerns amongst young drivers. In a world filled with problems, the survey revealed that young people’s unease is not just related to outside issues but there is also a significant amount of anxiety surrounding everyday driving. This is frequently expressed as aggression on the road.”
PUTTING ON A BRAVE FACE
Aggression on the road seems to mask a deep-rooted sense of anxiety among young drivers – particularly over external factors that are beyond their control. They worry about drunk drivers on the road, about being hit by another car or are frightened of breaking down. But, beyond this, youngsters also worry about serious, global issues, like unemployment – and those young people living in countries facing particularly challenging economic circumstances appear to be the most anxious.
South Africans exhibit high levels of anxiety about most issues, and particularly about breaking down in a bad part of town or being carjacked – this reflects the higher crime rate and the more difficult social situation in the country. It emerged clearly from the survey that South Africa’s roads seem to be unsafe compared to those in other interviewed countries. Where, globally, 45% of young drivers worry about breaking down in an unsafe area, this statistic shoots up to 78% of South African respondents. Other concerns include being hit by another car: 77% (global: 63%); having sudden loss of tyre pressure or puncture: 71% (global: 53%) and running out of petrol: 57% (global: 41%). As much as 67% said they had experienced car or tyre damage because of poor road conditions at least once in the previous two years; 71% of young drivers are afraid of being car jacked (global: 38%) and 5% declared they had car jacked in the previous two years. For this reason, 33% of young South African drivers carry a self-defence weapon in their car.
RAMPANT ROAD RAGE ACROSS YOUTH MARKET
Goodyear’s survey explodes a number of stereotypes on national characteristics. The Swedes, for example, who were ranked the 2nd safest drivers by their European peers last year, top the list of aggressive young drivers, while youngsters from Turkey, Spain and Italy are the least likely to display aggressive behaviours. South African drivers are more aggressive than average and are the most likely to make obscene hand gestures.
In fact, young South Africans rank first on several misbehaviours and are more likely than average to make mistakes while driving and lose their temper. These survey responses shed further light:
– 83% admitted they had ever sped up rather than slow down at an orange traffic light (global: 73%)
– 57% declared they had ever overtaken more than one car at a time on a dual carriageway
– 32% had ever accelerated on purpose when another driver tried to overtake (global: 22%)
– 38% admitted they had ever braked on purpose when a car behind is too close (global: 32%)
– 48% said they had ever weaved from lane to lane in heavy traffic in order to save time (global: 28%)
– 27% said they had ever tailed the car ahead closely and flashed their lights until the other road user made way for them.
Young South African divers are also the most likely to have driven after having a few drinks for dinner (45% vs global: 20%). Not surprisingly then, 74% of young drivers say they are concerned about drunk drivers on the road (global: 64%).
According to Goodyear’s survey, gender stereotypes are alive and well on the road. Globally, men are more aggressive than women and are more inclined to engage in dangerous behaviour such as overtaking more than one vehicle at a time on a dual carriageway (58% men vs 42% women); deliberately accelerating when someone tries to overtake (25% vs 19%); tailing a car closely and flashing the high beam to pass (22% vs 12%).
Interestingly, young drivers living on their own are more aggressive than those who live with their parents. They are more likely to swear (73% vs 63%) or make obscene hand gestures (31% vs 25%). This may perhaps be explained by the fact that those living at home have their parents at hand for advice and reassurance whereas those living on their own may feel more vulnerable and anxious.
Goodyear has recognised a need to deal with anxiety and aggression on the road, and works closely with the European Driving Schools Association (EFA) in Europe, the Volkswagen Driving Academy in South Africa and the Goodyear 4×4 Academy in the Western Cape. Their joint aim is to provide young people with more training on driving safely and responsibly, and ensuring optimal maintenance of their cars and tyres, in order to feel good on the road again.
“We recognise that young drivers have a great deal of anxiety in their lives and that this is spilling over into their behaviour on the road,” said Hayward. “People need to leave their daily troubles at home if they are to drive safely and responsibly. Together with our partner driving schools, we aim to equip youngsters with the skills and techniques they need to do this.”
Goodyear has 111 years’ worth of experience in developing a vital part of any vehicle – the tyre. We believe that we have a responsibility to be involved in the tyre safety debate, and we want to contribute to safer mobility. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.co.za or www.goodyear.com