Road head: Is it worth it? Science now has the answer.
But before we get to that, let’s find out who’s doing it: In a first-of-its-kind study from the University of South Dakota, researchers found that about a third of college-aged men have engaged in sexual activity while driving, while another 9 percent have gotten frisky as passengers. Women, on the other hand, were more likely to participate from the passenger seat, not from behind the wheel.
That may be because women tend to be more risk-averse, or because men often drive when couples travel together, says study author Cindy Struckman-Johnson, Ph.D.
On their most recent sexy trip, 81 percent of men gave or received oral sex. Nearly half did hand stuff. Another 13 percent of guys had full-on intercourse, and 11 percent of guys admitted to masturbating by dashboard light.
Sounds fun, but here’s the bad news: Road nookie is dangerous, and not to mention illegal in some places. Nearly half the encounters occurred at speeds of 61 to 80 miles per hour, fast enough that even the slightest distraction can be deadly. What’s more, as a result of car sex:
• 38 percent of participants exceeded the speed limit
• 36 percent drifted into another lane
• 11 percent let go of the steering wheel
• 2 percent nearly hit someone or something
One reason: Nearly 6 in 10 guys played all the way to climax. “We know that during orgasm, there’s a loss of situational awareness,” says Struckman-Johnson. Your eyes—and mind—may only veer from the road for a few seconds, but that’s long enough for something bad to happen.
Even without an orgasm, arousal itself might be distracting, she says. “The only way to be a good driver is that you have to be constantly surveilling both inside and outside the car, always looking straight ahead and to the side and back,” she says. “That awareness is lost in a lot of distracted driving behavior.”
While none of the study participants reported sex-caused accidents, the researchers found several cases across the U.S. where people have crashed while getting busy. Struckman-Johnson believes that sex is probably an underreported cause of car crashes because people don’t own up to it out of embarrassment. No one wants to say, “Sorry officer, I was masturbating.”
So what should you do when the mood strikes or your partner gets handsy? Don’t act on it. If she’s initiating, promise to make up for it as soon as you reach your destination. It’s like alcohol: “Drinking is a thing you do that’s fun and pleasurable, but it’s not to be combined with driving,” says Struckman-Johnson. “Think of sex in the same way.”
If you absolutely can’t wait, pull over—but don’t just go at it anywhere. If you just get busy on the side of the road, you might get arrested. (Depending on your state and municipality, charges and penalties may vary.) “I guess maybe the thing to do is go to a motel,” says Struckman-Johnson.
Another option? Plan ahead. Take care of your horniness before you take the wheel. We can’t think of a better way to prepare for a road trip.