LeasePlan, a leading international leasing and fleet management company, developed a survey to better understand the issues important to company car drivers and to understand drivers' opinions on such topics as congestion, road safety, and the environment.

The survey queried drivers from 18 European countries and Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and the United States. Questionaires were included in driver information packages, then distributed to drivers in 23 coutnries by the LeasePlan office based in that country. Responses totaled 12,778.

Most Valued Safety Feature

More than 138 million (64.3 percent) of the more than 216 million cars and light trucks on U.S. roads have driver airbags. More than 117 million (54.6 percent) also have passenger airbags. Another 1 million new vehicles with airbags are sold each month. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 12,776 people are alive today because of airbag deployment during an accident.

While American drivers are less likely than the survey average to value safety when selecting a company car, they nonetheless believe airbags are important. The survey revealed that airbags are the one safety feature that tends to be valued more highly by American drivers across the globe. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) also ranked high among American drivers.

Congestion on the Roads

According to the 2003 Urban Mobility Study, published by Texas Transportation Institute, congestion accounts for 5.7 billion gallons of wasted fuel and 3.5 billion hours of lost productivity. In 2001 (the most recent statistics available), congestion cost the U.S. $69.5 billion, $2.5 billion more than the previous year. That same year, the national average travel time index was 39 percent in 1982.

In the LeasePlan survey, 56 percent of American drivers think congestion is critical--compared to the global average of 37 percent.

On average, congestion adds three hours, 11 minutes to driving time each week in America. The global survey average is one hour, 55 minutes.

Driver Behavior a Factor

 According to the NHTSA, speeding has been cited as a contributing factor in nearly one-third of all fatal vehicle crashes. Limited information is available pertaining to additional aggressive driving behavior such as tailgating, weaving, running red lights, and making angry or obscene gestures toward other drivers.

In LeasePlan's survey, 61 percent of Americans consider young drivers aged 18-21 to be the "worst" drivers on the road--significantly higher than the global survey average of 47 percent.

Some 41 percent of American survey respondents say they have behaved aggressively toward other drivers--significantly lower than the global survey average of 53 percent. Men surveyed are more likely than women to admit they have behaved aggressively.

Other Survey Results

Sixty percent of U.S. drivers believe that company cars are cheaper to use than their personal cars. They also consider freedom from worrying about insurance and taxes a major employment perk. Fewer than three in 10 American drivers say they have never been in an accident, slightly lower than te average recorded in the global survey.

Seventy-six perccent of American drivers surveyed believe the best way to reduce levels of pollution caused by vehicle emissions would be to force all manufacturers to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles. Eighty-siz percent of American drivers surveyed believe they play a personal role in reducing environmental pollution.

Over half (54 percent) of Americans indicated their company car replacement cycle is three years or less. Seventy-three percent of American drivers surveyed cited vehicle suitability to teh job the most important factor when choosing a car. Comfort ranked second.