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road trip

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

  • University of Illinois at Chicago researchers found that more people in the Chicago area are anticipating taking road trips post-COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The survey showed that many are expected to remain fearful of flying even after the risks of the pandemic have passed.
  • The researchers are working on a larger national study with Arizona State University.

    If you love cars, it’s highly likely that you’re also a fan of road trips. If you’re planning a road trip after the pandemic, you’re not alone. Researchers have found that in a post-COVID-19 world, it’s starting to look like more and more people will be skipping the sky for some time on the road.

    Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Translab conducted a survey about the travel plans of people immediately after the pandemic subsides compared to their behavior before coronavirus turned the world upside down. After surveying more than 1000 people in the Chicago area, the researchers found that many people said they won’t feel comfortable on planes, and many of them are anticipating taking more long-distance trips in their cars instead.

    The researchers also found that local travel by personal vehicle was deemed to be extremely low risk by the highest percentage (59 percent) of those responding. It was followed closely by riding a personal bike (46 percent) and walking (42 percent).

    perceived risk travel study


    For the airline industry, if the trend is larger than that of those surveyed, it could be more bad news for an industry already in financial trouble. When asked if they expected to change air-travel plans once COVID-19 is no longer a threat, 26 percent said they would travel by air significantly less while 17-percent said somewhat less. Meanwhile, 43 percent said that their airplane travels would be around the same as before the outbreak. Only 14 percent said they intended to fly more than before.

    As for reasons behind the change, 48 percent said they don’t feel safe or comfortable around strangers in a close space. But here’s where you start humming “Holiday Road” from National Lampoon’s Vacation: 27 percent anticipated taking more long-distance trips by car.

    University of Illinois Chicago

    The researchers compiled the data from a survey of 906 respondents in the Chicago area. So it’s not a huge data set. But, the researchers will be starting a national-level study soon in collaboration with Arizona State University. The new study will be conducted as states are reopening so the answers might be slightly different as the national and personal concerns about the coronavirus may have changed.

    Still, the research is a snapshot of how the coronavirus has affected our thoughts about how we get around, and how we will in the near future.

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