Millions of Drivers Miss Out on Memories of Trips, Study Shows

Millions of drivers miss out on views and memories of road trips as they focus on GPS, traffic, and avoiding road work.

A poll of 2,000 drivers revealed almost three-quarters (72 percent) have turned up to their desired location with no real recollection of the route they took.

Other common distractions include worrying about how much fuel is left, engine noise, and talking to passengers.

It also emerged a quarter of motorists (26 percent) don't pay as much attention to their surroundings when driving as they should, and often miss the scenery they're driving past.

For 44 percent, taking breaks is a sure-fire way to help them focus on driving and the journey while others rely on planning or being familiar with the route, and even making sure they're well-rested and fed beforehand.

Ocean Drive on Miami Beach
A poll of 2,000 drivers revealed almost three-quarters have turned up to their desired location with no real recollection of the route they took. Pictured: A car drives along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, Florida, after the city reopened it to one lane of traffic flowing southbound on January 24, 2022. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Cognitive scientist Martha Newson, who has partnered with car manufacturer Hyundai, which commissioned the research, said: "Part of what holds us together as families, communities or society are the memories that shape us, and being able to reflect on our most defining experiences together.

"After years of lockdowns, the UK is making up for what feels like lost time.

"We have a deep need for memory-making – reflected in the fact that 22 percent of respondents shared that they want to be more present in the moment, and make more lasting memories during their journeys.

"It's not about getting from A to B, but really experiencing what the journey has to offer in all its glory.

"These journeys across the UK are part of what is bringing us back together, both physically and psychologically."

The study found 34 percent of those polled are more likely to remember a car journey when traveling with others, as opposed to being alone.

A third said the most prominent memory from previous driving trips in the past is who they traveled with, while the same number said the amazing views (33 percent).

These came ahead of passing famous landmarks (30 percent) and the destination itself (29 percent).

However, when asked about what sounds are most associated with a road trip, the sound of the engine (38 percent) surprisingly beat the radio or podcasts (36 percent) and the sound of the sea (16 percent).

Memorable drives in U.K.
Millions of drivers miss out on views and memories of road trips as they focus on GPS, traffic, and avoiding road work. In this graphic, a look at some of the most memorable routes for U.K. drivers. Jon Mills/Zenger

It also emerged more than 1 in 5 (21 percent) feel driving an electric car would make a road trip more memorable, as planning the route enables drivers to take a break and not only charge the car, but to refresh ahead of the next leg of the journey.

Others think electric vehicles add memories and make a nicer driving experience.

Drivers are happy to sail along for just shy of two hours and 40 minutes before taking a break, with 69 percent either planning or making impromptu stops in a bid to make their journey more memorable.

Toilet breaks are a frequent stopping point for 51 percent, with 37 percent allowing for a breather to stretch their legs.

Just 28 percent will pull in for a rest at scenic viewpoints, and 26 percent will stop off at a nice café.

The research, conducted via OnePoll, also revealed coastal roads, mountain views, and good weather are among the things motorists believe make a memorable car journey, and driving near lakes and rivers, passing through quaint villages, and cruising through national parks also featured.

Using the top 20 things that make a car journey memorable, according to motorists, Hyundai has curated the top 10 most memorable drives in the U.K. for the nation to enjoy this summer.

A spokesman for Hyundai Motor UK, which commissioned the research to encourage drivers to consider switching to an electric vehicle to help aid making memories on the road, said: "Driving can either be truly enjoyable, or truly forgettable – it all depends on how you approach it.

"If you're driving somewhere new this summer, treat it like an adventure and opportunity to see new things, try local restaurants and make new memories, and be more present with the people you're traveling with.

"A significant fifth say they miss out on making memories on drives due to engine fumes and noise – easily solved by switching to electric.

"Electric vehicles enable fast charging, maximum driving range, and lots of interior space, to make the everyday journey as enjoyable as possible."

Martha Newson's Tips For A Memorable Journey

1. Choose your car snacks wisely.

Opt for higher protein treats, like nuts or cheese, over sugary snacks or refined carbs – as regular sugar consumption is associated with poorer memory. Dark chocolate, at least 70 percent in cocoa, is the exception to this rule because it is rich in flavonoids, which are linked to increased blood supply to parts of the brain associated with memory. Anti-inflammatory foods including fruit, veg sticks, and certain teas are also ideal for optimum cognition, positively influencing neuronal signaling.

2. Minimize distractions.

While the playlist might be important, other noises could distract you from remembering the journey itself. Distracting information, such as engine noise or a cluttered car environment, places a burden on our working memory. As the brain is busy processing distracting information, our performance in other areas must decrease. So, if we want to support our visual memory to process beautiful scenery, it helps to have an uninterrupted journey with distractions minimized.

3. Really stretch your legs when you have a rest break.

A brief bout of exercise, whether it's some deep lunges, running on the spot, or a brief jog along the beach, can help improve circulation and the secretion of neuroprotective proteins, associated with the growth and development of neurons. This acute form of exercise primes the molecular processes to encode and consolidate new memories. If you've got an electric vehicle that needs its battery recharging, then take this time to recharge your batteries, too.

Top 20 Things That Make A Car Journey Memorable

  1. Driving along the coast
  2. Mountain views
  3. Good weather
  4. Driving near lakes and rivers
  5. Quaint villages
  6. Who you travel with
  7. Seeing a significant landmark (i.e. Angel of the North)
  8. Stopping at viewpoints
  9. Driving through a National Park
  10. Passing colorful fields
  11. Driving through forests
  12. Stopping at a beach
  13. Seeing animals in fields by the road
  14. Finding a country pub for lunch
  15. Driving through hilly areas
  16. Crossing a border (i.e. England to Scotland)
  17. Going over bridges
  18. Taking secondary roads instead of highways
  19. Hilly roads
  20. The amount of traffic

Top 10 Things That Distract Drivers From Having A More Memorable Journey

  1. Lots of traffic
  2. Driving a route driven before/familiar with
  3. Bad road conditions
  4. Talking to passengers
  5. Following a Sat Nav/GPS
  6. Listening to the radio/podcast
  7. Trying to avoid road work
  8. Singing along to music
  9. Worrying about how much fuel is left
  10. Checking how economically I'm driving on the dashboard