Who Is The Winner of the “Busy Wars”? Probably Not Who You Think
Updated on Aug 17, 2022 · 4 min read
Busy-ness is a badge of honor and there is probably no better way to convince others (and yourself) that you’re crazy busy than driving all over town. “I’ve got a million things to do!”
Maybe you’re a parent racing to a half dozen sporting events on the weekend. Or maybe you’re a 19-year-old who’d rather drive in circles than endure the shame of a Thursday night at home. Whatever the case, driving is one of the surest ways to burnish your busy badge — a universally accepted gauge of busy-ness.
But who is the busiest? Jerry looked at data from more than 7 million vehicle trips by 27,000 people over 15 weeks, from May 1 through Aug. 13. Here’s what we found:
Young and Restless
Youth appeared to be the strongest predictor of jumping in the car and going. The younger the driver, the more trips they took. This held true across all five age groups. The busiest of all demographic groups? Gen Z women ages 18-24, who averaged 19 trips per week. They also earned the distinction of being one of two age groups of women who took more trips than men their age. The other was Gen X women ages 45-54.
Otherwise, men averaged more trips than women overall (272 average trips versus 264 during the 15-week study period) and in three of the five age groups.
Single and Free or Married and Nesting
Single people bested their married counterparts when it came to racking up points for their busy badge. This was true overall (259-249 in average trips) and across four of five age groups. The exception was married people 18-24 years old. Somehow, though, married men 18-24 took more trips than their wives (286 vs 268 average trips), even though women of the same age ranked as busiest overall.
Going the Extra Mile
Men also drove longer distances than women. This was true for every age group, though the differences in distance were small. But we found a strange, inverse relationship with gender, age and distance. Generally, the older a woman is, the shorter the distances she drives. The opposite is true for men.
When looking at trips by day of week, we found that the number of overall trips rose gradually throughout the week, surging to a peak on Friday and then sagging to a low on Sunday. This rhythm should come as no surprise to anyone who has ever held a full-time day job.
When it came to peak driving hours during the week, there was no obvious difference between women 18-24 and the rest of the population. But we zoomed in on them because they were the busiest demographic overall.
As with everyone else, Friday night ranks as their busiest time, but midnight Thursday to 3 a.m. on Friday are busier than the same hours on Saturday, indicating that Thursdays are also big nights for women 18-24. Note also that they start more trips between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday than at any hour between 8 a.m. and noon on any other day of the week. That’s youthful exuberance!
We began with a dataset that contained more than 10 million trips by 52,000 U.S. drivers from May 1 through Aug. 13, 2022. We dropped outliers by number of trips, using a Z-score higher than 2 or lower than -2, and removed all drivers with fewer than 48 trips. That left us with 7 million trips by about 27,000 drivers.
There was no non-binary gender category in this dataset. While some chose “None” for their gender, that wasn’t a clear designation of non-binary. Because “None” is inherently less descriptive and informative, and because the numbers choosing it were significantly smaller, we decided to focus on male and female when looking at driving habits through a gender lens.