December 15, 2021

Waze's Year in Rear View Reveals U.S. Driving Behaviors and Trends from 2021

Highlights funs facts and behaviors across the U.S. to see what we learned about drivers and driving in 2021

Ever wondered what America’s favorite road trip snack is or the most popular soundtrack to this year’s drives? Waze answered these questions and more in its inaugural ‘Year in Rear View’ survey, which launches today. Using first and third party data, Waze’s Year in Rear View takes a look back at our year in travel to see the places we drove the most, the books and music that kept us entertained, and what quirky driving habits we all shared during 2021.

Waze asked respondents in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Italy, Israel, Brazil and Mexico about their behind-the-wheel behaviors, favorite forms of entertainment, fun facts and aspirations, and what they experienced on the road this year. 2020 was a year where most of us stayed close to home, with 2021 opening up new opportunities to hit the road and get back to traveling.

2021 Year in Rear View Results

Behind-the-Wheel Behaviors: What behaviors, trends or quirky habits did drivers showcase in 2021?

  • 60% of global respondents are happy drivers, rating themselves 8 or above (out of 10). Drivers in Brazil and Mexico were ranked the happiest drivers, while drivers in the U.S. scored 7. In the U.S., 35-44 year olds are the happiest drivers
  • Brits are known for being polite, so it’s no surprise 60% would wait patiently if a car ahead of them wasn’t moving. Meanwhile 35% of Americans are more likely to honk their horns to get moving!
  • Shopping was the main reason 43% of Americans used their cars in 2021, with visiting family (36%) and commuting to and from work (36%) following behind
  • Older Americans are more confident parallel parkers: while 33% of 18-24 year olds refused to parallel park, only 8% of those 65 and over said they wouldn’t

Entertainment: What kept drivers entertained this year?

  • Sweets and candy were the top snack of choice for drivers across the globe, except in the U.S. where drivers prefer fast food as their favorite snack
  • U.S. drivers felt that “Easy on Me” by Adele, “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic, and “Peaches” by Justin Bieber featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon best reflected their year on the road
  • Podcasts are a more popular option for younger American drivers with 45% of 25-34 year olds choosing this entertainment, compared to 20% of 55-64 year olds
  • Globally, those listening to podcasts used their time to stay informed with NPR News Now, The Daily, ABC News Briefing, Times News Briefing and Sur Le Fil ranked as the top podcasts drivers listened to via the Spotify integration on Waze
  • 45% of 18-24 year olds in the U.S. would give up their phones if it meant a year with no traffic; while 38% of 65 year olds and over wouldn’t give up anything to avoid traffic

Driving Dreams: What were drivers’ wish-lists of favorite cars, passengers or aspirations for driving?

  • James Bonds’ Aston Martin was the top car of choice for North American drivers with 32% of respondents choosing the sleek ride
  • Globally, Jennifer Lopez and Elon Musk were the top female and male celebrities who made headlines in 2021 that drivers would most like to have in their passenger seat, but U.S. drivers would most like Beyoncé and Elon Musk or Joe Biden riding with them
  • Over 50% of Americans would quit or change their jobs if it meant a shorter commute
  • Carpooling is the best option to avoid traffic with Americans (39%) more likely to share their journey with a friend or colleague to avoid traffic than their global counterparts

U.S. Local Navigations: The top locations and trends that Americans drove to in 2021

U.S. cities where Wazers drove the most this summer (June-September):

  • New York
  • LA
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Atlanta
  • Dallas
  • Nashville

Are Americans planning to travel for the holidays this year?

  • To another city/outside their local area (45%)
  • To another state (40%)
  • Within their city/local area (39%)
  • To another country (20%)

Are not planning to travel for the holidays this year (16%)

“Waze’s inaugural Year in Rear View gave us the opportunity to look back on our driving behaviors and habits in the U.S. during 2021, a year when many of us got back to regularly traveling in our cars,” said Andrew Kandel, Head of Sales, North America, Waze. “We learned that Americans drove the most miles in October 2021 and 27% would give up TV for a year of no traffic. With drivers continuing to rethink their commutes, we predict we’ll see even more drivers on the road in 2022 whether it’s trips for leisure, travel, errands or commuting.”

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