SOURCE: AARP Driver Safety

AARP Driver Safety

December 01, 2014 09:00 ET

AARP Poll Reveals Differences in How Drivers Prepare for Long Trips

According to Findings, Preparation Tends to Focus More on the Car's Success Than the Driver's

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - December 01, 2014) - This month, as roads across the country grow increasingly congested with holiday travelers, AARP Driver Safety set out to learn how prepared Americans are for taking a long distance car trip and how their preparation levels can vary by age.

The nationwide survey of 1,202 licensed drivers, age 30 and older, found that drivers prepare for car trips of 50 miles or more in very different ways. While nearly all drivers (98%) report feeling prepared, their methods of preparation focus more on vehicle preparation, such as ensuring the vehicle is up-to-date on service, vs. driver preparation, such as planning scheduled breaks.

AARP Driver Safety released the new survey results today with a corresponding infographic as part of Older Driver Safety Awareness Week.

According to the findings:

  • Drivers approach car preparation differently than route preparation: 98 percent of drivers age 30 and older feel prepared before taking a car trip of 50 miles or more. However, they tend to focus more on preparing their car than planning their route. 80 percent of drivers always ensure their vehicle is up-to-date on service, yet only 26 percent prepare by always planning to avoid dimly lit conditions. Only 33 percent always make plans to avoid bad weather.
  • What drivers believe is important doesn't always reflect how they behave: 85 percent of all respondents believe having a first aid kit in the car is important for a long trip, yet only 60 percent typically have one in the car. Similarly, 72 percent believe having flares or warning reflectors is important, yet only 37 percent typically have them.
  • In general, the extent to which drivers engage in vehicle preparation increases with age: Older drivers, ages 50+ are particularly likely to always ensure their mirrors are adjusted properly, check their tire pressure, and confirm that windshield wipers are in good condition.
  • Older drivers prepare to avoid challenging driving situations more often: Twice as many drivers ages 65+ always make alternative plans for bad weather as compared to drivers age 30-49.
  • Scheduling pit stops is something an older driver is more likely to do: It's a best practice to take a break every two hours or every 100 miles. More than one third of drivers 65+ always establish where they'll stop before they leave the house for a trip of 50 miles or more, while less than a quarter of their younger counterparts (age 30-49) report doing the same.

To download this survey in its entirely, visit
"Driver preparedness should always be a focus, but even more so as we enter a busy time on the roadways," said Julie Lee, Vice President and National Director of AARP Driver Safety. "Staying safe and smart behind the wheel is paramount, and taking just a little extra time to prepare ourselves for long car trips is just as important as preparing our vehicles."

AARP Driver Safety regularly monitors trends, perceptions, and challenges of older drivers in the U.S., primarily to inform their AARP Smart Driver Course, the nation's first and largest older driver refresher course. This year alone, it's projected that nearly half a million drivers across America will participate in the class. It is open to drivers of all ages, and AARP membership is not required to participate. 

In October 2014, AARP conducted the survey of active and experienced drivers age 30 and older who drive at least once a week and take car trips of 50 miles or more. The sample of 1,202 respondents age 30+ was drawn at random from the U.S. adult population in telephone households. The results from the study were weighted by age and gender. The margin of sampling error for a sample of 1,202 is ±2.8%.

For more information on this survey, or the AARP Smart Driver Course, visit

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services. A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin;; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at

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