AKRON (April 29, 2002)-The tire industry and particularly independent tire dealerships need to get behind the Rubber Manufacturers Association's efforts at creating a National Tire Safety Week and then run with it.
This is a wonderful opportunity to hike awareness about tire maintenance and tire safety, while stressing to consumers the value of purchasing and having tires serviced by professionals—that is, independent tire dealers.
So far, the RMA has done a good job getting the nation's larger retail tire chains to support the first National Tire Safety Week, which the organization has designated for the week of April 29.
It also has smartly elicited the help of the Tire Association of North America/International Tire & Rubber Association, which combined have 5,000 tire dealer and retreader members who deal directly with the tire-buying public.
TANA/ITRA's efforts have led to the distribution of 120,000 tire safety brochures, supplied by RMA, to their membership for use during tire safety week. They've also encouraged industry companies to place ads in local newspapers promoting the benefits of tire inspections, the importance of tire safety week and the necessity of proper tire care.
The two tire dealer/retreader groups also have recruited 22 state and regional tire dealer associations to support the cause.
But even with this vast network of outlets, there are thousands of dealerships—many in rural communities across the U.S.—that are not affiliated with these associations and are likely unaware of tire safety week.
Their support is crucial if the RMA and TANA/ITRA hope to reach a majority of tire consumers with their message.
And there's no question a national education effort is needed. While the intense media scrutiny surrounding the recent Firestone and other recalls has raised consumer awareness of tires, concern about them likely will ebb unless another rash of tire problems occurs nationwide.
This waning of interest already seems to be taking place. A recent RMA-commissioned study found that only 11 percent of drivers had checked tire air pressure during the past month. It also determined that 31 percent of drivers had never had a wheel alignment performed on their vehicles; 55 percent didn't know of the existence of tire-wear bars; and 24 percent thought underinflated tires were best for a long trip in a fully loaded vehicle.
Clearly, the public remains uneducated about tires.
The publicity generated by tire safety week can spread the message about tire care and tire safety. Repeated over time, it can change consumer opinion.
But this won't happen unless all tire dealers do their part. Supporting National Tire Safety Week is the place to start.