(BPT) - Americans like company when they’re driving, as long as the talk isn’t centered on thorny topics. However, family talk — especially talk surrounding black sheep family members — is a favorite conversation topic. These were the recent findings in the latest Hankook Tire Gauge Index.
The Gauge asked drivers what they most like to talk about on the road. Despite the constant onslaught of reality television and politics in the media, only 4 percent were interested in reality TV and politics clocked in at just 10 percent.
With football season off to a rocking start and the holiday season looming, family seems to be on travelers’ minds, or at least some family. For 40 percent of Americans, personal or family gossip are the topics of choice during a commute or a weekend trip.
Regardless of the topic, Americans want their conversations conflict free, which may be why politics aren’t popular in-car banter. Thirty-five percent of Americans say getting into a heated argument is their biggest fear when with their driving buddy. Only slightly more tolerable than a conversation going off the rails in the front seat is the awkward silence 25 percent of Americans believe is worse than an argument.
More than any particular talking point, company makes the trip. The Gauge found 61 percent of Americans prefer to have a driving companion, and 38 percent say having someone to talk with is what they like best about having a companion in their car. If you’re the driver, pay more attention to your passengers than your phone. More than 40 percent of Gauge respondents worry about drivers who pay too much attention to their phones. Drivers can forget one element of good manners, though — don’t make eye contact with your passengers while you’re driving. That spooked a quarter of Americans, who would rather have drivers watch the road than them.
But before you get your buddies together and load up the car for a weekend road trip, make sure your car is ready. The transition to cooler fall temperatures and the effects of heavy summer driving season on your tires make it important to observe a few basic safety points as the winter months approach:
Check your tire pressure. Fall can bring rapid temperature changes from warm to cold, causing the air in your tires to contract, resulting in a loss of pressure. Check your tire pressure at least once a month and refer to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended PSI range.
Check your tread for excessive wear from summer driving. Be sure you have tires with sufficient tread depth in case of an early season snow. To check, simply insert a penny into your tire's tread groove with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it's time to replace your tires.
Choose the right tire. Fall brings beautiful colors to the trees, but falling leaves can lead to slippery roads even before the first freeze or snowfall. All-season tires like Hankook’s Ventus S1 noble2 tire provide excellent all-season traction in wet and wintry conditions. In terms of timing, the first morning you can see your breath as steam means it’s about that time for your car to be equipped with all-season or winter tires.