GREENVILLE, S.C. (Sept. 2, 2014) — Alarmed by what it perceives as inadequate attention paid in drivers’ education and training programs throughout the U.S. to the role tires play in vehicle safety, Michelin North America Inc. is launching an initiative to “transform the way new drivers are trained” and to raise awareness of tire maintenance and safety.
Michelin is partnering with the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) — the Paris-based governing body for world motor sport — to get the initiative off the ground. The action also will include mobilizing parental involvement, encouraging peer education and working to update the state-by-state Department of Motor Vehicles education curricula, Michelin said.
In announcing the initiative, Michelin cited new data about drivers’ education and training that show teenagers in the U.S. often lack the essential knowledge and skills that can help keep them safe on the roads. This knowledge gap, Michelin claims, may result in nearly 300,000 preventable car crashes involving inexperienced drivers each year.
“Teenagers in this country are dying in car accidents or are involved in car crashes that are preventable and require only very simple behavior changes,” said Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America. “Michelin North America is committed to helping lead change and to get our young drivers the training they need.”
To raise awareness of tire maintenance and safety, Michelin and the FIA are launching “Beyond the Driving Test,” a campaign that will work to make new resources available to help teens and parents brush up on their own car and tire maintenance skills — including a downloadable glove box guide with important tips — and will include a series featuring popular teen YouTube stars sharing tire safety tutorials.
Longer term, Michelin said it and the FIA are “committed to rallying the industry to get involved and shape the future of America’s driver’s education curricula in an effort to help teens avoid accidents and save lives.”
The partners are calling for all 50 states to include tire safety information in their official driver’s education materials by 2020.
“Young drivers can take some very easy, quick steps that can affect their safety – and help them avoid an accident,” Mr. Selleck said. “Tires are the only parts of a car that touch the road, so it makes sense that driving safety begins with tire maintenance.
“Driver’s education today has done many things well,” he added. “However, it has generally ignored some key safety facts — driving with unsafe or improperly inflated tires — that can be life threatening.”
Automobile accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens in America, Michelin said, with more than 5,000 deaths each year. Of the 2.2 million vehicle accidents per year, 12 percent are among inexperienced drivers and involve tire-related issues such as insufficient tire tread or improperly inflated tires, a number that is nearly three times higher than with experienced drivers. That equates to one accident every two minutes.
Some of these statistics come from a new survey commissioned by Michelin and the FIA.
For instance, the data show only half of teens (49 percent) and their parents (47 percent) reported believing that their driver's education program completely prepared the teens to drive.
The two organizations also conducted an in-depth audit of driver’s education curricula in all 50 states and discovered only 16 states require tire safety information as part of driver’s education. Beyond this, only seven include tire safety information and require classroom time devoted to vehicle maintenance and tire safety.
Key findings of the audit include:
- Fewer than half of states (23) mandate driver’s education classroom time, and of those, only seven states cover tire safety information — California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.
- An additional nine states refer to tire safety in their educational materials, but none mandate classroom time devoted to tires or tire safety.
These gaps in driver’s education curricula are evident in teen education, knowledge and behavior, according to the survey findings:
- One in four (27 percent) teens report they never check the condition of their tires (compared with 3 percent of parents).
- Fewer than half of teens (48 percent) check their tires at least monthly (the recommended frequency) compared with 69 percent of parents.
- Nearly three quarters (73 percent) of teens said they had their parents teach them about tire maintenance, but only around one-third (38 percent) of these parents consider themselves to be extremely knowledgeable about tire maintenance.
The survey results are based on responses from 1,001 teens and their parents in interviews conducted by Ipsos America Inc. from June 17-30, 2014.
Scott Clark, the chief operating officer of Michelin North America’s passenger car and light truck division, said, “We applaud the 16 states that include tire safety in their educational materials. We look forward to working with those states to ensure they have up-to-date and comprehensive information about tire safety and maintenance, and we will provide the same material to the remaining two-thirds of states that don’t include any tire-related information in their current driver’s education manuals.”
To learn more about the research findings, as well as access educational resources, visit beyondthedrivingtest.com.
This new initiative follows on the FIA’s “Action for Road Safety” campaign, launched in 2011 in support of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.
The FIA hopes the Action for Road Safety will help save the lives of 5 million people on the world’s roads by the end of the decade. Since its launch, the campaign has been embraced by governments, stakeholder organizations and member clubs across the globe.