Expanding on its ``Be Tire Smart-Play Your PART'' tire safety program, the Rubber Manufacturers Association has designated the week of April 29 as the first ``National Tire Safety Week.''
The RMA was to launch the campaign at an April 29 press conference, at which officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) also were scheduled to appear.
In addition, the association has signed the Tire Association of North America as a partner in National Tire Safety Week, as well as some of the largest tire retailers in the U.S.: Big 10 Tires, Big O Tires Inc., Discount Tire Co., Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc., Merchant's Inc., Tire Kingdom Inc., Sullivan Tire, and Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s National Tire & Battery (NTB) and Sears Automotive Centers.
``Our research shows a significant need for tire safety education throughout the country, especially as we approach the busy summer driving season,'' RMA President Donald B. Shea said in a prepared statement.
An RMA-commissioned survey conducted by FrederickPolls last February pointed out the truth of Mr. Shea's words all too sharply:
* Only 11 percent of all drivers checked their tire pressure within the previous month, knew the vehicle manufacturer was the source of proper inflation pressure figures and knew to check the pressure while the tire is cold.
* AAA reported more than 3.5 million member calls to fix flat tires in 2001-up 4.1 percent from 2000.
* Fifty-one percent of drivers failed to rotate their tires every 8,000 miles, and 14 percent never rotated them at all.
* Thirty-one percent of drivers never had a wheel alignment on their cars; 55 percent didn't know of the existence of tire-wear bars showing when tread has become low; and 24 percent thought underinflated tires are best for a long trip in a fully loaded vehicle.
As part of National Tire Safety Week, the RMA is distributing millions of tire care brochures through tire dealerships, local AAA clubs and its own Web site, www.rma.org.
It also will sponsor ``Tire Safety Days'' in Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Tallahassee, Fla., and Phoenix to encourage drivers in these hot-weather areas to check their tires regularly.
Earlier this year, the RMA conducted a six-city tire safety tour in Baton Rouge, La.; Jackson, Miss.; Birmingham, Ala.; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Columbia, S.C.
TANA is particularly pleased to join the RMA in National Tire Safety Week, according to Ross Kogel, TANA executive vice president. ``It is very important for the tire industry to come together and designate a specific week to tell consumers how they can obtain information about tire safety,'' Mr. Kogel said.
Among other things, TANA has distributed more than 120,000 of the RMA tire safety brochures and made National Tire Safety Week the lead story of this month's Tire Retailing Today, its membership publication, he said.
John Adams, president of Big O Tires, told Tire Business his company was happy to be part of National Tire Safety Week. ``Most importantly, we're helping the public understand the pivotal role they play in maintaining a tire,'' he said.
SmarTire Systems Inc., a manufacturer of onboard tire pressure monitoring systems based in Richmond, British Columbia, congratulated the RMA on National Tire Safety Week and said it would sponsor its own tire safety program during the month of May. It will collaborate with Tire Rack, a major distributor of high-performance tires and wheels, to promote installation of SmarTire's monitoring products.
Robert Rudman, SmarTire's president and CEO, said in a press release that ``never before has tire safety been so prevalent in the media and in people's minds. It was the tragic accidents during the summer of 2000 involving tires that prompted the creation of the Transportation Recall Efficiency, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act.''
This groundbreaking legislation, Mr. Rudman continued, ``calls for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to define new tire safety standards that will require tire pressure warning devices on new passenger cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. after 2003.''