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On the Road Again: Hankook Tire Gauge Index Maps Out a Summer of Automotive Travel

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Latest survey reveals consumers returning to daily commutes, prefer traveling by car for summer trips

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 11, 2021 -- Despite ongoing vehicle production delays and a potential gas shortage, Americans are prepared to hit the road again, according to the latest survey by Hankook Tire America Corp. The most recent Hankook Gauge Index revealed how Americans are resuming regular driving habits and their growing optimism about travel plans ahead of the upcoming summer season.

Regular commuting signals a return to "normal"


The daily drive is back. Hankook found nearly half (45 percent) of Americans say they are driving every day, which is more than twice as many as the same time last year (20 percent). In fact, driving is nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, as 54 percent claimed to drive daily prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. About half of Americans say they are once again driving to their office (44 percent) or school (43 percent), the same as pre-pandemic.

Most people also expect they will return to their normal driving habits by the end of the year (75 percent). Millennials may be the first to do so, as they are currently dominating the road. Sixty percent say they have already returned to driving every day, making them significantly more likely to get behind the wheel than their Gen Z (45 percent) or Gen X (52 percent) counterparts.

In addition, the latest data reflects an increased reliance on automotive transportation over other modes like public transportation and ride sharing. The Gauge found most Americans (78 percent) rank automotive as the mode of transportation they are most likely to use through August 2021.

"Our latest Gauge Index indicates people are relying on cars more than ever as they resume daily routines, and demonstrates increased confidence in returning to school, work and social activities," said JJ Park, Director of Marketing. "Understanding these shifting trends in Americans' attitudes and opinions about driving offers both the auto and travel industry important cues about consumers' plans as we emerge from the pandemic, further helping them to navigate the road ahead."

Travel takes an optimistic turn

The latest Gauge Index revealed that, in addition to returning to more regular driving habits, Americans are generally also more positive about travel overall.

  • Americans are ready to pack their bags. Uncertainty about upcoming travel has decreased year-over-year by 38 percent as 70 percent of drivers say they are excited or hopeful about their next vacation or trip. In April 2020, 1 in 4 (26 percent) cited feeling uncertain about upcoming travel plans whereas in the latest survey, only 16 percent said the same. Further, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans expect to embark on their next trip before the end of the summer.

  • But they still feel more comfortable taking a car. Seventy percent say they will drive to their next vacation spot rather than getting on a plane (24 percent). This is due to several factors, including personal preference (47 percent), an added feeling of safety (45 percent) and increased flexibility with travel plans (49 percent).

  • Road trips are on the rise. Half of drivers (50 percent) have taken a road trip out of leisure or necessity in the 30 days prior to the survey, up from 34 percent in February. And many others plan to hit the road soon, as about two-thirds (64 percent) say they are planning to take a road trip in the next 30 days.

  • Travelers are looking to get away and get together. As drivers get ready to hit the road, they're looking for options to relax and reconnect. The two factors driving Americans' desire for travel are to visit loved ones (23 percent) or relax and reset (29 percent), pointing to a need to take a break from the stress of the last year with those who matter most.

  • However, the kids are staying home. Most travelers will be accompanied by their spouse or significant other, as nearly half (45 percent) indicated that is who they are most excited to travel with. Only 14 percent said they're excited to travel with their children.

The Hankook Tire Gauge Index is a survey of Americans' attitudes and opinions about driving. The latest survey, conducted April 19-22, 2021, polled 1,021 randomly selected Americans age 18+ who have a valid U.S. driver's license.

The latest data from the Hankook Tire Gauge Index can be found at

About Hankook Tire America Corp.
Hankook Tire America Corp. is a growing leader in the U.S. tire market, leveraging investments in technology, manufacturing and marketing to deliver high-quality, reliable products that are safer for consumers and the environment. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hankook America markets and distributes a complete line of high-performance and ultra-high-performance passenger tires, light truck and SUV tires as well as medium truck and bus tires in the United States. Hankook Tire America is a subsidiary of Hankook & Company Co., Ltd., a Forbes Global 2000 company headquartered in Seoul, Korea. Hankook Gauge Index Dashboard

A lot has changed lately – from how we commute to work, visit with family, and take road trips to that favorite vacation spot. But what hasn’t changed is the love we have for our cars and the feeling that being on the open road provides.

For 10 years, the Hankook Tire Gauge Index has maintained a pulse on what drives us. This dashboard offers an ongoing look at driving behaviors and trends, and how the experience behind the wheel continues to steer us in new directions.

Check back for regular Gauge data updates.

Last update: May 2021

Daily driving accelerates.

One year after Hankook first surveyed Americans about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, daily driving is on the rise again. While we haven’t yet returned to pre-pandemic driving frequency, more than twice as many Americans are driving every day compared to April 2020.

Much of that is due to the return of the daily commute. About half of drivers say they have resumed regular drives to their office (44%) or school (43%).

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In addition, automotive is the preferred mode of transportation for Americans when asked about their plans between now and August 2021.

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Regular driving means more regular maintenance.

As drivers hit the road more often, they are turning their attention to their maintenance habits again, too. Hankook found 90% have performed vehicle maintenance in the last 30 days, up from 78%. Those driving once a week or less are significantly less likely to conduct car maintenance, indicating that the more we’re driving, the more we are taking care of our vehicles.

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Road trips are on the rise.

More Americans are hitting the road again. Half of US drivers have taken a road trip in the last 30 days, and another 64% plan to take one in the coming month, indicating a promising uptick in time for summer travel.

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