What’s driving Americans on Independence Day?

With the official start of summer next week, Hankook Tire today announced the findings from its latest Gauge Index which revealed how drivers plan to road trip over the July Fourth holiday weekend and throughout the season. Whether visiting friends and family or cruising to beaches or mountains, Americans will hit the road frequently this summer and close to a quarter (23 percent) will take a road trip for the holiday weekend. Hankook identified travel preferences and behaviors for all drivers and passengers to keep in mind before hitting the road this summer.

Road trips are about the journey as much as the destination. Drivers must make important decisions such as which vehicle to drive, whom to take and the best routes to their destinations. One strong preference is clear, however: Comfort is king. Fifty percent of Americans prioritize vehicle comfort over fuel efficiency (35 percent) and driving performance (15 percent). One of the major contributors to cabin comfort is temperature, and nobody enjoys sitting in a hot seat. The Gauge found that one in three drivers (31 percent) start the car to cool it down before getting in. Once on the open road, Hankook found that Americans prefer having the air conditioning on (61 percent) to open windows (39 percent).

Another important component to road trips is passenger etiquette. From music, to snacks, to directions and gas, there are plenty of contributions the co-pilot and passengers can make to promote safe and fun driving. More than one in four drivers acknowledge they change music (28 percent), check GPS (28 percent) and take phone calls (33 percent) while driving, according to the Gauge Index. Passengers can take control of these activities during road trips but shouldn’t be a distraction themselves – 18 percent of drivers identified other people in the car as the biggest distraction while driving.

Although road tripping can be cheaper than flying, filling the tank a few times can add up, especially if drivers are paying by themselves. Fortunately, the latest Gauge Index found that drivers do not always pick up the gas tab alone, as passengers chip in for gas quite often – 66 percent of the time. Passengers will pick up the entire tab just 5 percent of the time.

gauge index

To save money at the pump this summer, tires are key to maintaining fuel efficiency. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month and before each long trip, particularly when the vehicle is weighed down with extra cargo. Gas expands when heated, and for every 10-degree increase in outside temperature, tire pressure will adjust by 1 psi. Maintaining optimum tire air pressure is also vital for extending the tires’ tread life and maximizing performance and safety.

“Summer is a busy travel time for Americans around the country and our latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index indicates this upcoming season will be no different,” said Wes Boling, Public Relations Manager, Hankook Tire America Corp. “No matter where you travel this season, tires are the foundation of a safe, enjoyable journey. To ensure a safe and smooth vacation, check for any visible damage to your tires and monitor your tire pressure and tread wear.”

Drivers should also check and inspect their spare tires prior to departure. According to the Gauge, close to one in 10 drivers (8 percent) don’t have a spare tire in their vehicles, which can pose trouble and delays if they experience a flat tire.

The Hankook Tire Gauge Index is a quarterly survey of Americans that uncovers their attitudes and opinions about all things related to driving. The latest installment of the survey, conducted from April 21 to April 22, polled 1,031 randomly selected American drivers.

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