With Record-Setting Holiday Travel, Rubber Manufacturers Preach Safety
Lower gas prices and a rebounding economy will result in a record number of people traveling this holiday season, according to AAA. With more than 90 million people set to hit the road, one association is reminding drivers to check their tires.
Until the days of floating high-speed rail and supersonic commercial jets are upon us (2021 and 2022 respectively, according to separate reports on CNN Money), travelers will have to stick to more ordinary means of transportation—cars, buses, and regular-speed trains and planes—as they get moving for the holidays. And according to AAA, this year could see a record number of people hit the roads and skies.
The auto membership organization projects that close to 99 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles by car or air this holiday, up 4 percent from 94.8 million last year. That’s the highest number since the group began keeping records in 2001.
“What we’re seeing is people are more willing to travel, and they’re not wanting to just stay home and worry about the economy,” Megan Saxon, a AAA travel manager, said in an interview with USA Today.
More than nine out of 10 travelers will go by car, AAA said. Thank (or blame) the lowest gas prices in five years—the national average for a gallon of gas, as of last week, was $2.48—and the fact that Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Thursdays, enticing folks to take the long weekend.
“Lower gas prices are filling stockings with a little more cash to spend on travel this year as travelers are expected to pay the lowest prices since 2009,” AAA President and COO Marshall L. Doney said in a statement. “Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to set aside money for travel this year.”
With so many travelers opting to hit the highway this holiday, the Rubber Manufacturers Association urged drivers to do a little maintenance before leaving home. A recent RMA survey found that nearly half of drivers will forgo checking tire pressure.
“We’re encouraged that more than half of holiday road trippers are taking steps to be tire smart and check tire pressure,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president, public affairs. “But all motorists should be checking tire pressure before every long trip. Fully loaded vehicles packed with people, luggage, and holiday gifts that ride on under-inflated tires present a safety issue.”
Other maintenance measures that respondents said they would take included getting an oil change (51 percent), checking their brakes (41 percent), and checking the battery (17 percent). Fifteen percent said they would do no maintenance tasks.
Earlier this month, the White House announced the launch of Tire Safety Awareness Month (December 9 – January 9), an initiative RMA supported, to educate drivers about the importance of tire maintenance.
“We’re excited that tire maintenance has received attention from the highest level in the federal government,” Zielinski said. “Too many motorists ignore even this simple, basic maintenance task that means so much to helping ensure vehicle safety for our families.”