New research from Hankook Tire reveals that as COVID-19 has kept many Americans home, three-in-four (76 percent) say they miss being behind the wheel. The survey also found that there is a desire to spend more time on the road as 60 percent of Americans say they want to take more trips by car as a result of the pandemic.
It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on vacation and travel plans. The Gauge found that 88 percent of Americans cancelled or postponed plans because of COVID-19. And nearly one-in-two (47 percent) cancelled a vacation. However, while only 43 percent of Americans expect they will be able to take their next vacation this summer, they are steering towards positivity. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of those surveyed said they are hopeful or excited about an upcoming trip.
When vacation travel plans can resume, the survey indicates that there will likely be an increase in road trips, as 57 percent say they plan to take their next vacation by car. According to the Gauge, Americans are currently more than five times more comfortable traveling by car (62 percent) than via plane (11 percent), and it’s likely that sentiment will continue for some time. Americans also selected traveling by car as the top mode for transportation after the pandemic.
Additionally, when it comes to road trips post-pandemic, a majority of Americans want to travel with a loved one in the passenger seat. When asked who they would most like to take a vacation with once travel restrictions are lifted, 40% of Americans selected their spouse or significant other – which is two times more than the second most popular pick, their child or children (18%). Only 11% said they would like to travel alone.
Prior to the onset of COVID-19, about half (53%) of Americans were driving daily. Since the onset, only one-in-five are doing the same. The decline has less to do with worry or anxiety over driving and more to do with having fewer places to go. Those who drive less often point to social distancing and stay-at-home orders preventing them from doing their normal activities, especially those related to consumerism. The survey found that restaurant closures (73%) and retail closures (69%) are more likely to impact Americans’ driving habits than employment (55%) or education (51%).
Alternatively, some (37%) are driving as often or more since the pandemic hit. Many who are doing so are going to an essential job or to help take care of family members who may not be able to get behind the wheel right now. Others are going on drives to get out of the house.
Driving has also offered a form of escapism. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans say that driving gives them peace of mind, and just as many (62%) consider it stress relief.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted priorities in various aspects of our lives, and the latest findings from our Gauge Index shows that Americans truly enjoy driving,” said Peter Jung, SVP and COO, Hankook Tire America Corp. “The data reveals Americans have a renewed appreciation for road trips, car rides, and time spent with loved ones. When it’s safe to be on the road regularly, Hankook looks forward to supporting drivers as they once again begin to journey along the open road.”
The Hankook Tire Gauge Index is a survey of Americans’ attitudes and opinions. The latest installment of the survey, conducted April 22-23, 2020, polled 1,094 randomly selected Americans aged 18-plus who have a valid U.S. driver’s license.