STUDY: Majority of Commuters Say They Will Only Feel Safe in Single-Occupancy Vehicles for the Next 10 Years Staff Staff

While single-occupancy vehicles have always been a popular choice for many commuters, never has it been more apparent than after 2020. Standing on a busy street and watching empty buses pass by makes it clear how uncomfortable with mass transit many people are these days.

In order to get a sense of how people will feel the safest commuting in the next decade, the automobile research team took a survey of 1,221 U.S. drivers, asking them for what mode of transportation they will feel safest using for their commute, there was a clear and dominant response, seen below.

Survey Findings:

  • 60.9% of commuters say they will most likely only commute by single-occupancy vehicle.
  • Only 13% of survey respondents said they will feel safe on most forms of mass transit in the coming years.
  • 3.2% of respondents said they will feel safe in a rideshare like Uber or Lyft.

COVID-19 Affected Commuters’ Sense of Health Safety on Public Transportation

The name of the game since March 2020 has been creating a safe distance between one another. Looking back at how close everyone used to pack on buses and subways prior to the pandemic, it makes sense that a return to wide adoption of mass transportation might be limited, at least in the near future.

While surveying a batch of U.S. commuters, their preference was clear for at least the next decade: they will feel safest when they drive themselves wherever they need to go.

Of the people the research team spoke with regarding this perception, the most common response was related to facing lingering anxiety about being in the same space as strangers for long periods of time.

“I can’t imagine standing within inches of a total stranger anymore, especially for a long period of time on a bus or something,” one person said.

“This fear of being close to strangers doesn’t feel like it will suddenly disappear once I’m vaccinated,” another said. “Maybe in a few years, but not right away.”

It’s worth mentioning how increases in single occupancy increase several troubling metrics including traffic, pollution, and car accidents, to name a few. It is a safe prediction to assume that in the coming 12 months as people return to a more normal life, work in physical offices, and drive on roads, that there could be a spike in traffic as well as car accidents

In November 2020, The research team found that many drivers felt overwhelmed while returning to a more normal driving schedule. Many people reported that traffic felt like it returned to pre-pandemic levels, and in many instances felt worse.

Survey Methodology

  • Survey responses were collected between March 10 and March 16, 2021.
  • 1,221 U.S. residents were surveyed online.
  • Demographic breakdowns: 51.3% female, 48.7% male; age brackets separated by decade with all ranges balanced between 14.7%–23% of total responses.

About the Authors

The staff is dedicated to providing you with all the deep-dive details. Our writers, researchers, and editors came together from Charlotte, Seattle, San Juan, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, and Chicago to put this review together.