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Surveys: Believe them—or maybe not

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I like reading and hearing about survey results. I didn't say I believe them, just that I think they are enjoyable.

It's fun and enlightening to learn that women are lazier than men (Time magazine, 2012); that Mitt Romney will win the presidential election popular vote by a 49-48 percent margin (Gallup Poll, Nov. 1-4, 2012); or that Americans average 8 hours and 44 minutes of sleep daily (U.S. Dept. of Labor, June 2012).

Apparently, Time never met my mother, who had to be pried out of her school secretary job in Cleveland at age 78. Gallup? Obama 51.1 percent, Romney 47.2. And nearly nine hours of sleep each day? No wonder no one believes the government.

A couple of recent surveys in the tire industry have pricked my curiosity, primarily because they verify preconceived notions. Isn't that the main purpose of paying attention to surveys?

Plus, if you merge some of the results of the studies by Hankook Tire America Corp. and the Rubber Manufacturers Association, you can create a fascinating, probably inaccurate picture of the American motorist.

Hankook's report is the “Hankook Tire Summer Gauge Index.” It shows the number of Americans planning to head out on a road trip this summer of more than 50 miles has fallen 10 percentage points from a year earlier—to 60 percent of the 1,008 respondents, down from 70 percent in 2012.

The tire company doesn't say why that is. I'd guess the additional 9 cents per gallon motorists are paying for gas today compared with a year ago may have something to do with it.

Likewise, the sequestration cuts achieved by our do-nothing Congress means destinations like national parks and forests are cutting hours, curtailing educational programs and reducing maintenance. Less toilet cleaning, no garbage pickup. Ugh.

Hankook found that most summer drivers (89 percent) said they plan to check their vehicle's tire pressures before they head out on the road. Unfortunately, the RMA reported in June that only 17 percent of American motorists know how to do so properly.

My take on this is that vacationers are preoccupied with packing new bathing suits, sunscreen lotion and chargers for their smartphone and iPad, and forget about something as mundane as tires.

Additionally, geezers—defined by people under 30 as people over 60—are three times more inclined to check their tire pressure than those in the 18-39 age bracket, the RMA study shows. It makes sense, though, since the “kids” are concentrating on not forgetting those chargers.

The Hankook study also found that Rock "n Roll is the favorite road music of 37 percent of its respondents, followed by Country (19 percent) and Hip-Hop (10 percent).

All of which leads to the following conclusion: The typical summer vacation Road Warrior is some geezer who complains about gas prices, stays in cheap motels, irritates passengers with his music selection and only wants to drive to a baseball game.

Ed Noga, editor of Rubber & Plastics News, wrote this column for that Akron-based sister publication of Tire Business.
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TB Reader Poll

Previous | Published March 18, 2019

Where can you expect to see the most growth in 2019?

Tire sales
45% (34 votes)
General automotive service
15% (11 votes)
Brakes, shocks and other undercar services
7% (5 votes)
Add-on business
15% (11 votes)
Anywhere we can get it.
19% (14 votes)
Total votes: 75
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