With the summer travel season starting this week, a new survey conducted by Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) reveals more than half of Americans plan to travel only by car this summer to reach their vacation destinations. Nearly four in five respondents said they feel safer in a car than on a plane, and nearly one-third said they plan to travel more than 500 miles by car this summer.
While restrictions and guidance concerning travel, outdoor activities and public gatherings have begun to ease, just 13% said they will visit crowded destinations such as amusement parks and metropolitan cities. Moreover, 15% will continue to stay close to home for the foreseeable future. For those planning to travel, half of respondents said they are using their next trip to visit friends or family, and another 24% will visit the beach this summer.
Despite the high number of Americans solely trusting their vehicles for travel this summer, many drivers have not completed routine tire and vehicle maintenance that is critical to a safe journey. Among the findings:
- 46% of respondents indicated they have not checked their tire pressure within the past three months;
- 20% said they have never personally checked their vehicle’s tire tread depth or the condition of their spare tire.
“Over the past year, many Americans have understandably delayed routine tire and vehicle maintenance, which is why we are urging drivers to take some simple steps to ensure their vehicle and tires are road trip ready,” said Robert Johnson, vice president of stores, Bridgestone Retail Operations. “No one should spend their vacation stuck on the side of the road – it’s not safe or fun. A successful road trip starts long before you pull out of the driveway with proactive vehicle and tire maintenance.”
Below are a few activities drivers can easily check at home to help ensure their vehicles are prepared for long distance trips:
- Tires: Drivers should check tire pressure using a tire inflation gauge and evaluate tire tread depth. A simple way to check tread depth is with the penny test. Drivers can place a penny upside down in the tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it is time to purchase new tires. Before hitting the road, consumers should also check their spare tire. Some vehicles have a “mobility kit” in lieu of a spare to temporarily seal a tire until it can be replaced.
- Oil: Drivers should check their oil by turning the engine off, popping the hood and locating the oil dipstick. For an accurate reading, remove, wipe and reinsert the dipstick. Visit a car care center if oil is low or appears gritty or milky.
- Battery: Car owners can safely and easily check for a healthy battery from the comfort of their own driveway by turning their vehicle’s headlights on for 15 minutes without starting the engine, then starting their car and while watching the headlights. If they dim noticeably, it is likely the battery needs replacing.
For drivers seeking hands-on help, Bridgestone recommends visiting a car care center such as one of the company’s Firestone Complete Auto Care centers. Drivers should consider a complete vehicle inspection by an expert technician prior to hitting the road for a long trip – especially considering the change in driving patterns many have seen during the pandemic.
Additional findings from the survey include:
- 53% of respondents said they had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- 50% indicated they were already comfortable traveling city-to-city by car and including an overnight stay.
- 15% of respondents, by contrast, expressed concerns about intra-city travel in the next seven to 12 months or longer.
- 25% expressed a high degree of comfort with attending a sporting event or concert.
- 23% said they were already comfortable traveling by airplane to another country.