Surveys Reveal Anticipation, Concerns For Drivers
Drivers are revving up their engines for long overdue travel, surveys say. And that means extra vigilence for anyone planning a road trip.
A recent survey by Bridgestone discovered more than 50% of Americans planned to skip the flight and travel by road to their vacation destinations.
That’s a good thing--with a few caveats to make that journey safe.
“No one should spend their vacation stuck on the side of the road,” stated Robert Johnson, vice president at Bridgestone Retail Operations. “A successful road trip starts long before you pull out of your driveway.”
One-third of the respondents planned to travel more than 500 miles by car this summer. The distance drivers expect to travel underscored maintenance issues which could derail those summer adventures.
“There are a few activities drivers can easily complete before hitting the road,” said Will Robbins, director of consumer product strategy at Bridgestone.
For instance, 46 percent of respondents said they had not checked tire pressure for at least 90 days.
Robbins recommended getting tire inflation checked before traveling. He also suggested investing in a tire gauge to check for proper inflation while on the road.
“Proper tire care is critical to tire performance and your safety on the road,” said Robbins, who also mentioned other benefits of adequate tire inflation. “Fuel efficiency increases and you maximize the life of your tires.
“The tire inflation placard is located on the driver’s side door panel. Drivers also can refer to their owner’s manual.”
Vehicles manufactured in North America after 2008 are equipped with tire pressure monitoring sensors. Yet, tires already may be critically low on pressure by the time the warning light is activated.
“Similar to a vehicle’s check engine light, this alert indicates immediate action is needed,” Robbins emphasized. “Tire maintenance comes down to three simple steps--inflate, rotate and evaluate.”
The Bridgestone survey also discovered concerns about tire tread depth. One in five drivers indicated they had never checked the tire tread depth of their tires or the condition of their spare tire.
“A simple way to check tread depth is with the 'penny' test,” Robbins said. “If the head on the penny is visible, it’s time to purchase new tires.”
Two other recent surveys confirmed a pent-up demand for road travel as well as other concerns for summer road trips. More than 80 percent of the drivers surveyed by Hertz Corporation said they planned a road trip and almost half of those respondents intended to visit family via vehicle travel.
The answers to the survey done by Erie Insurance uncovered driver behavior and their concerns about other drivers.
Three fourths of drivers admitted they sometimes or often speed. Well over half of respondents said they sometimes or often drive when fatigued.
A more startling admission: 13 percent of the drivers surveyed said they sometimes or often fall asleep while driving.
“We know a lot of drivers are anxious to travel again as the pandemic restrictions begin to lift,” said Jon Bloom, vice president of personal auto at Erie Insurance. “We need to remain vigilant. We want everyone to enjoy their road trips.”
What were some of those concerns drivers had about other drivers? The Erie Insurance survey lists the following:
- 50 percent were worried about texting while driving.
- 18 percent fretted about road rage.
- 14 percent had speeding as one of their concerns.
- 12 percent identified tailgating.
- 3 percent mentioned failure to yield.
No matter what their concerns, drivers in all three surveys were encouraged to do some pre-road trip planning. Robbins at Bridgestone gave his top recommendations:
- Not all vehicles come with spare tires. If your vehicle does not have a spare tire, consider investing in one before your road adventure this summer.
“If your vehicle is equipped with a spare tire, be sure to fully inspect it. Same as with the four tires touching the road, it’s important to ensure your spare tire is properly inflated,” Robbins said.
- Some vehicles come with run-flat tires which allow cars to travel a certain distance after a loss of tire pressure. It is crucial for car owners to know the type of tires on their cars in order to be fully prepared for a roadside emergency.
- Consider investing in a full-sized spare for road trips.
“The major advantage to a full-sized spare--it is not a temporary fix,” Robbins said. “You can replace the flat with your full-size spare and continue on your way.”
- Get your vehicle fluid levels checked before any journey out of town. That includes oil, brake fluid, windshield washing fluid and coolant.
- Battery problems can lead to road frustration overnight. Vehicles that have been sitting in one place for a long time may require a new battery.
- Among the signs indicating you may need a new battery is slow cranking when you start the car. It is also possible to know you have a weak battery by checking the brightness of your headlights.
“This can be done by turning your vehicle’s headlights on for 15 minutes without starting the engine. Once 15 minutes has passed, start the car while watching the headlights. If they dim noticeably, your battery likely needs replacing,” said Robbins.
- Extend the life of your tires by taking those mountain roads slowly.
“Taking curves too fast can wear the edges of your front tires,” Robbins said.
- Avoid potholes to prevent tire and wheel damage while traveling. Most potholes appear in later winter and in early spring due to the expansion and contraction after the water has seeped underneath pavement.
“Hitting a pothole can impact tire performance or even lead to a slow leak, as well as disrupt wheel alignment,” Robbins pointed out. “Drivers should avoid speeding over puddles that could be hiding deep potholes, and when possible, steer clear of them altogether.”