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The Year in Rear View: The Top Driving Trends of 2021

What we’ve learned about driving routines and patterns across the globe this year.

Here’s a look Wazers’ driving routines and patterns across the globe in 2021.

What did 2021 look like for drivers? With the year’s end almost here, we wondered how people around the world experienced the past 12 months on the road — so we decided to ask them.

Our inaugural “Year in Rear View” reflects on the top habits, quirks, and trends from drivers around the world in 2021 — the places we drove to most, the music and podcasts that kept us entertained, the driving behaviors we shared, and more.

Our research highlighted some fascinating insights about driving this year, plus a few ideas to help you beat traffic this holiday season. Here’s to great roads ahead in 2022!

60% of drivers rate themselves 8 or above as happy drivers, but drivers in Brazil and Mexico were the happiest this year.

Behind-the-Wheel Behaviors

Travel still wasn’t back to normal this year, but drivers were happy to be on the road again. Worldwide, 60% of respondents told us they’re happy behind the wheel, with Brazilian and Mexican drivers taking top honors as the happiest overall.

A lot of them may feel good because they’re driving: More than 66% say they would rather be in the driver’s seat than next to it. Surprisingly, 1% willingly claim the back middle seat on car trips. More power to you, you legroom-sacrificing legends.

Keeping with the positive vibes, “Funny” and “Eco-Friendly” were the most popular Moods for Waze drivers in 2021.

“Funny” and “Eco-Friendly” were the most popular Moods for Waze drivers in 2021.

But what about the times when your journey isn’t smooth sailing? What would you do if a car in front of you wasn’t moving? Americans and Israelis admitted they’d honk their horn, while British drivers were most likely to show patience on the road. (Tip: Try out the “Drive with Headspace” feature to find more joy on the road.)

60% of British drivers would wait patiently if the car ahead of them wasn’t moving, while 41% of Israeli drivers would honk the horn.

When it comes to being a passenger, the vast majority claim they aren’t backseat drivers, even when journeys aren’t going as planned, except for American and French respondents, who admit they just can’t help themselves.

More than 50% of respondents are traveling to another city, region, or state during the holidays.

The majority of respondents say they’re traveling to another town or city for the holidays, so don’t be surprised if the roads are busy. Tip: Worried about traffic? You can plan your drive ahead of time and know exactly when to leave.

Speaking of the holidays, we’ve got a surprise for you: Santa’s back! He’s returned to Waze to brighten up your ho-ho-holiday season with festive cheer that’ll get you through your shopping, family gatherings, and wherever else you’re headed. We know the holidays can be stressful, but your drive doesn’t have to be.

Entertainment

Nothing beats a great driving soundtrack, so it’s no surprise Wazers worldwide especially loved tunes by Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, and Lil Nas X this year, which they streamed via the Spotify integration on Waze.

If podcasts are a big part of your driving routine, you probably fired up an episode of NPR News Now, Times News Briefing, or AFP’s Sur le fil to keep you entertained — those were the top podcasts globally that Wazers listened to via the Spotify integration on Waze in 2021.

Tip: Looking for holiday cheer instead? We’ve got two seasonal playlists that will perk you up on the road. Turn up Santa’s playlist for holly jolly classics, or switch over to Mall Santa’s playlist to take a break from the yuletide standards.

Sweets and candy were the most popular snack choice for drivers around the world, while Americans preferred fast food.

When it comes to the top road snack, drivers worldwide prefer candy…except for U.S. drivers, who are fueling up at fast food drive-thrus. Tip: If there’s a particular snack you always get on trips, save the brand in the Waze app for quick and easy navigation.

Elon Musk and Jennifer Lopez are the public figures Wazers want in their passenger seat.

Driving Dreams

If your dream road trip buddy is Elon Musk or Jennifer Lopez, you’ve got a lot of competition. Around the world, drivers would love to hit the road with one of these two famous figures who made headlines this year. (Just wondering, J-Lo: Is it cool if we blast “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” while you ride shotgun?)

Most drivers would carpool to get themselves out of traffic, while Brits would rather change jobs that invite someone else into their car.

Note to self: Don’t ask to carpool with a British driver. While most respondents around the world say they’d carpool to avoid traffic, U.K. drivers would rather find a new job than share a ride.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, a quarter of Americans are so sick of driving to work, they’d take a different job if it meant a shorter commute.

What’s the most iconic car? It’s a toss-up between Bond’s Aston Martin and Batman’s Batmobile.

Aston Martin or Batmobile? We’d take a joy ride in either one, but drivers are split: British, American, Canadian, and French drivers are picking Bond’s Aston Martin, while Latin American, Italian, and Israeli drivers are all about Batman’s Batmobile.

That’s our Year in Rear View! If you’re ready to hit the road for the holidays, remember these simple tips to find more joy behind the wheel:

  1. Plan your route in advance to beat traffic.
  2. If you’re stressing out, try Headspace’s meditation for drivers.
  3. Add extra holiday cheer by activating the Santa experience on Waze.

Cheers to more great driving in 2022.

2021 year in review.

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