Australia’s road trip renaissance

With travel restrictions easing in most states, many Australians are rediscovering the ‘great Australian road trip’. And older Aussies are leading the charge – and keeping safety top of mind before hitting the road.

The JAX Tyres & Auto Road Safety Report 2020, conducted by YouGov, found that, overall, more than four out of five (87 per cent) Aussie drivers conduct specific vehicle checks before at least some long road drives, while almost (45 per cent) conduct checks before every long drive.

However, the report revealed major safety gaps, with just 45 per cent checking their tyre tread depth and only one in three (34 per cent) checking their seatbelts before a long drive.

Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of respondents are confident in their ability to change a flat tyre.

Generational differences
Older generations tend to take more precautions, with baby boomers (92 per cent) and gen X (90 per cent) most likely to carry out extensive vehicle checks.

Around eight in 10 millennials and 78 per cent of generation Z do the same.

However, gen X (69 per cent) and millennials (67 per cent) are most confident about their tyre-changing ability, ahead of baby boomers (60 per cent) and generation Z (51 per cent).

Baby boomers (77 per cent) are more likely than gen X (66 per cent), gen Z (64 per cent) and millennials (62 per cent) to rank backseat driving among their top three most annoying passenger behaviours.

Gender differences
Women are more conscious of pre-road trip safety and ensuring they have breakdown cover (15 per cent compared to 11 per cent men) and are also more likely than men to get peace of mind from a full service (27 per cent and 20 per cent respectively) or from roadside assistance (25 per cent of women compared to 17 per cent of men).

More than half (56 per cent) of all Aussie drivers check their water, oil and brake lights on a monthly basis or more often, with men leading this routine inspection (64 per cent compared to 48 per cent women).

Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) male drivers are confident about their tyre-changing ability compared to over four in 10 (41 per cent) women.

YourLifeChoices spoke to JAX Tyres & Auto expert Richard Norris for findings and tips specific to older drivers.

Why are so many Aussies jumping at the chance to go on a ‘great Australian road trip’ this year?
“Aussies around the country are really embracing the concept of a great Australian road trip,” said Mr Norris.

“With restrictions easing in many parts of the country, we’re seeing a significant surge of people who are ready to put rubber to the road and see more of their own ‘backyard’. In different circumstances, it can be a toss-up between international and domestic travel, but with recent events curtailing overseas trips there is an opportunity to drive to their next getaway and explore the great outdoors.”

Which safety checks are Aussie drivers doing well, and where they can improve?
“The two most important features are your car’s brakes and tyres, so it’s essential to make sure these are in optimal working condition. Many Aussies, and over 50 drivers, in particular, are very conscious of doing vehicle safety checks before a long drive as this gives them peace of mind. Testing tyre pressure and topping up oil levels and coolant in the radiator rank amongst the most frequently checked items, as these are quick and highly visible on your vehicle exterior and under the hood.

“However, there is always room for improvement! Under half of Aussie drivers check their tyres’ tread depth – despite tyre tread and tyre pressure relating to the same parts of their car – and just over a third check their seatbelts are in working order before hitting the road. Having worn tyres or malfunctioning seatbelts can really impact your safety and those of your loved ones, so it’s important to get expert advice on this.”

Demographic breakdowns on how different drivers approach car safety?
“Older generations tend to take more precautions, with baby boomers the generation most likely to carry out vehicle checks. Boomers are most likely to be more experienced with prepping for long drives.

“Road trippers who are over 50 are almost twice as likely as millennials to say making sure they have breakdown cover is the most important action before a long car journey, while younger drivers check their car’s water, oil and brake lights with a slightly higher frequency than their older counterparts. It’s encouraging to see all drivers taking their vehicle safety seriously.”

What are your top road trip tips?

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