That’s Entertainment: Media Preferences among American Drivers

Could our media consumption preferences correlate with how we behave on the road?

INSIGHTS PREVIEW:

  • TV (#1) and music (#2) shared a nearly equal amount of advocates: they are the the top two most popular forms of entertainment media across all respondents
  • Driving behavior and incident prevalence was consistent across respondents, but the highest percentages of many at-fault incidents were found among those preferring video games
  • SUV drivers were 65 percent more likely to prefer reading books to playing video games
  • Truck drivers were 2 times more likely to prefer watching (or streaming) TV to reading books
  • American car owners were 30% more likely to prefer music listening to reading books

As the media landscape changes, so do the ways we choose to entertain ourselves. Music isn’t confined to the radio; television isn’t just on the tube. According to Deloitte’s most recent State of the Media Democracy report, streaming services are on the rise, content formats are diversifying, and the entertainment market finds itself having to adapt to the ever-fickle preferences of the emergent Generation Z.

As a result, as our favorite forms of entertainment are merging, our preferences become more fluid, segmented, or even reflections on how we relate to popular culture. Plus, our likes and dislikes don’t exist in a vacuum; they might be all too intertwined with greater truths about ourselves. What could our media preferences indicate about how we behave, work, or even…drive?

Curious about how the changes in technology have impacted cultural preferences for entertainment—and, more importantly, whether or not separate tastes had any correlation with driver behavior—the data scientists at Insurify decided to take matters into their own hands.

Here’s what they found.


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Methodology

The data scientists at Insurify, an auto insurance quotes comparison website, collected data from their database of over 1.5 million car insurance applications, which ask questions about driving history, vehicle type, and other personal data from the past seven years. A random sample of shoppers were also surveyed about their favorite form of entertainment. From the response data, Insurify’s data team was able to determine the significant differences in reported driver behavior (and other data) between different types of respondents.

Mass Media Preferences: Where Drivers Do (and Don’t) Collide

1. Survey results: State of the media in 2019


The final results of the survey show a neck-and-neck virtual tie between TV and music. As we’ve noted, changing media formats and the explosion of streaming services have made these two entertainment media more accessible than ever, so it’s no wonder they dominate here. But the so-called Golden Age of Television—and the sheer amount of programming now available—might be partially responsible for TV’s slight edge.


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2. Accidents, DUI, speeding, suspensions: Driver behavior and mass media preference

When it comes to driver behavior—because, yes, all of us have made mistakes behind the wheel—there was no significant difference between respondents. However, it is worth exploring the prevalence of each driving incident as a share of every category of respondent.

Accidents: The top spot for at-fault accidents went to those who preferred Video Games, with 15.5 percent of gamers claiming to have been in an accident within the last seven years.

  • Video Games: 15.5%
  • Books: 15.3%
  • Music: 15.2%
  • TV: 14.1%
  • Other: 12.2%
  • Movies: 11.9%

DUIs: Though they’re small shares across the board, Video Games nabs the dubious honor yet again. Over 3 percent of gamers had a DUI on their record.

  • Video Games: 3.2%
  • Music: 2.6%
  • Movies: 2.6%
  • TV: 2.3%
  • Other: 1.8%
  • Books: 0.8%

Speeding: Noticing a pattern here? Video Games again. We can’t say we’re surprised that a healthy amount of gamers had a need for speed on the road, too.

  • Video Games: 17.7%
  • Music: 13.0%
  • Books: 12.3%
  • Movies: 11.7%
  • TV: 10.9%
  • Other: 9.9%

Suspensions: A suspended license usually comes as a result of a serious offense. Interestingly, over 5 percent of that dubious Other group reported a suspended or revoked license in their recent past.

  • Other: 5.4%
  • Music: 4.1%
  • Video Games: 3.8%
  • TV: 2.9%
  • Movies: 2.3%
  • Books: 2.0%

Again, none of these results for driver behavior were statistically significant. So no matter which driving incidents might have caused a bump in your insurance premium, you can’t simply chalk it up to whether you’re a book lover, movie junkie, both, or neither. Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake!

3. SUVs: Book lovers are going bigger


SUV sales are on the rise, and not just because they’re the perfect blend of functionality and aesthetics for your neighbor Linda.

These heavy-duty vehicles, which are more common choices for young professionals and their families, are not always seen as the thinking person’s car. (Something about the design of the Ford Explorer doesn’t evoke literary sentiments.) But nearly a third of book lovers in our survey reported driving an SUV.


SUV drivers were therefore more inclined to report enjoying more classic forms of entertainment over streaming music or playing video games. More trunk room for the latest bookstore haul?

4. What are you driving?


Car drivers (as opposed to those who listed a truck as the primary vehicle on their policy) represented a larger share of our sample overall. But within each category of respondent, different proportions of vehicle ownership emerged.

For instance, don’t expect to see many pickups in your driveway next time you host your book club. Those who preferred books also drove trucks at a 5.7 percent rate—compare that to the 11.4 percent for TV lovers. That means that TV was 2 times more likely to be chosen by those heavy-duty drivers than book reading.

Furthermore, car drivers saw an overrepresentation of gamers. At a 70.4 percent share of video game lovers among them, car drivers were 1.3 times more likely to choose this medium over TV, and 1.2 times more likely to choose it over any other option—seemingly small margins, but nevertheless significant ones, given the sample size.

5. Star-spangled drivers: making radio waves?

Brand iconicity is the calling card of many American car makes. Besides that, what’s the real difference between, say, a Ford and a Toyota? However, if you drive a U.S.-born vehicle (as opposed to a foreign make), there may be a more subtle correlation between your car and your media platforms of choice.


A significantly higher percentage of domestic vehicle drivers reported preferring music to reading—perhaps they were busy bumping the national anthem on a road trip. Of course, there’s always rest stops for a reading break every hundred exits or so.

Check out the full results below:

Insurify’s team of data scientists and content specialists presents Insurify Insights, a series of automotive, home, and health studies focusing on the topics that impact us all. Through expert analysis of over 1.9 million car insurance applications and an array of top data sources, the Insurify Insights team produces new data-driven articles, trend analyses, regional superlatives, and national rankings every week.