Research in the US has shown that buyers of S.U.V.s and minvans think very differently.* Not suprisingly therefore, there is huge appeal for automakers to read the minds of the market to better target their desired group and reel them into the showroom. Hence, big money is being spent on research into consumer psychology, the results of which are then fed through to design and advertising departments.
DaimlerChrysler‘s market research team found that sports utility buyers tend to have a desire to “feel sexy” and therefore often to opt for smoked windows to maintain a sense of mystique.* A writer for commuter.typepad.com also echoes this idea by saying that S.U.V.s can be used to attract attention from the opposite sex.
Researh by Honda’ also found sport utility buyers to place huge emphasis on the external appearance of their vehicle in contrast to minivan buyers who are more concerned with the interior features.
On a safety note, marketing teams have tried to portray S.U.V.s as indestuctible robust vehicles, because as Dr. Clotaire Rapaille’s psychology studies have revealed, it is vehicle size which makes people feel safer, not actually the scientifically tested safety features.**
Driver behaviour has also been found to coincide with the type of vehicle being driven, as a higher proportion of sport utility drivers did not feel that courtesy was important whilst out on the road (Source: Auto Pacific Inc.).
Looking at the wider picture- community life- Strategic Vision have discovered minivan buyers to be more likely to be ‘involved’ in their communities and to take part in volunteer work (see blog entry: Are long commutes eroding our social networks? July 17th) On the other hand, sport utility buyers have been found to concern themselves more with going to the gym or out for a top-notch meal in their free-time.
* The New York Times July 17th 2000
** http://commuter.typepad.com July 2007
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Under what circumstances is owning a car not possible or desirable? This is essentially the question posed by David Usborne in his comment piece in today’s Independent titled ‘The madness of owning a car in Manhattan’.
He mentions the impending congestion charge for the area and the price of a single yearly car parking space averaging at $165,000 (£80,500), which is exactly the same square foot cost ($1,100) for a new apartment in New York, but without the frills. However with public transport described as fit to burst, some may see why having a car in the city is still a very desirable proposition, but with a quarter of the emissions from cars in cities coming from drivers circling their neighbourhoods looking for a space should we be providing more parking or cutting down on car use altogether?
(Source: The Independent Monday 23rd July 2007, p.25)
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Posted in Research, Safety on 23 July, 07 |
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Thirty-seven percent of US teenagers admit that text messaging is the biggest distraction while driving, according to a survey of 900 students by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Liberty Mutual Insurance Group.
The research was completed against a background of increasing teen driving tragedies involving text messaging. According to SADD distractions are beoming as prevalent as drinking and driving in terms of inhibiting young people driving abilities. The most distracting behaviours were identified as;
- Instant text messaging while driving – 37%
- [The young drivers] emotional state – 20%
- Having several friends in the car – 19%
- Talking on the phone – 14%
- Eating or drinking – 7%
- Having a friend in the car – 5%
- Listening to music – 4%
Although US focused, the study is extremely relevant to promoting safer novice driving in the UK. New mobile phone laws as well as the proposed changes to novice driver testing and restrictions ‘tick’ a number of the distractions identified, but there is little education or publicity work done around considering the ’emotional state’ while driving, which is number 2 on the list. It is truely worrying that so many young people are text messaging while driving and dangers of doing this really do need to be emphasised to a greater degree.
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