Shifting gears: More Americans get back behind the wheel

(BPT) - The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable, unavoidable impact on our world — from the way we conduct business, to how we shop for groceries. It has shifted our idea of what is important in life, and according to Hankook Tire’s latest Gauge Index, Americans say spending time with family is a top priority. In light of everything 2020 has brought so far, Americans are shifting gears with a renewed emphasis on things we may have previously taken for granted: from time spent with loved ones, to road trips to our favorite vacation destinations, and even surprisingly, our daily commute.

The rise of the road trip

Summer is normally synonymous with taking a break and making an escape to somewhere fun, and for many, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench in those plans. But Hankook found that nearly two-thirds (62%) of Americans are still hopeful and excited about the idea of an upcoming vacation. And more than likely, that vacation will be a road trip.

As consumers remain skeptical of traveling by plane and other forms of public transit, they are finding a safe hygiene haven in their own vehicles. According to the Gauge, 60% of Americans expect to take more road trips as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many expect a rise in road trip plans enabling travelers to explore while still safely adhering to social distancing guidelines.

So, who are they going with? Even as restrictions lift, Americans remain uncertain about traveling with people outside their households. At the same time, they don’t necessarily want to travel with everyone in their household.

When Hankook asked who Americans would most like to travel with after the pandemic restrictions ease, the top choice was their significant other or spouse (40%), indicating a desire to spend some quality time together. Traveling with a spouse or significant other was more than twice as popular as the next most popular choice: traveling with your children (18%). Good time to check to make sure your babysitters are available!

Redefining the daily drive

Americans’ preference for wheels over wings doesn’t just stop when it comes to planning their next vacation. It will also have a significant impact on the daily commute. The Gauge found that Americans widely agree automotive travel will be the top form of transportation after the COVID-19 pandemic eventually subsides (62%). Only a small percentage of people expect to regularly use other forms of transportation — including public transit (9%), ride sharing (7%) and trains (6%) — with the same regularity.

Of course, nobody knows what that regular rush hour might look like, as offices across the country look for ways to safely stagger workforces and encourage working from home to allow for proper social distancing. Many will continue to avoid commutes altogether as companies encourage employees to keep working from home. When the time is right to resume your daily commute to work or school, make sure your vehicle is ready for the job as well by checking your tire pressure, any flat spots developed from prolonged parking and that A/C systems are ready to keep things cool this summer!

Overall, it’s clear that one of the many perspectives the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped is Americans’ attitudes toward driving. What may have once been a daily drag might now be a necessary change in routine, and a welcome opportunity to spend time with the people that matter most.

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