We are writing to comment on the article ``Study: Drivers Want Tire Safety Features,'' reported Dec. 12 on the Tire Business Web site. It notes that ``even more than digital sound and in-vehicle Internet, drivers want tire pressure monitors and run-flat tires on their cars,'' according to a J.D. Power and Associates study.
The article goes on to say ``tire pressure monitors came in first out of 25 emerging vehicle features addressing safety, comfort, convenience and entertainment'' in the J.D. Powers 2002 study.
On behalf of the Tire Industry Association (TIA), we believe this is part of the tire industry's ongoing image problem.
The call for additional tire safety features belies the fact tires are some of the safest and highest quality products available to the public today. Seat belt usage and drunk driving continue to be the ``eight hundred pound gorillas'' of automotive safety, yet consumers are focused on tire safety, thanks to the well-tuned marketing efforts of plaintiffs attorneys. Tires, unfortunately, are the focus.
Perhaps even more ominous, because of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new rules related to the TREAD Act, many run-flat systems will be set to detect inflation rates 25-30 percent below the recommended pressure. This represents a dangerously underinflated condition, and will teach consumers only to inflate their tires when the tire pressure monitoring system indicates a problem: when a tire is 25-30 percent underinflated. That's wrong.
In short, consumers are calling for tire pressure monitoring systems because they are misinformed about the safety and quality of tires. Ironically, the use of such systems may actually increase the number of underinflated tires on the road. And finally, unless the tire industry undertakes a public relations effort to improve our image, we'll be stuck with the image we have now. And that is unacceptable.
We, as an industry, need to mount a public relations campaign to tout the safety and quality of tires, and TIA is planning such an effort for this year.
In the coming year, TIA will launch a public relations effort for the tire industry, and we will ask every business and every professional to support the effort to improve the image of our products. We must educate the public.
Tire Industry Association executives
Crying for help-again
Goodyear's new CEO (Robert Keegan) stated in a story in the Nov. 2, 2002, issue of Tire Business that Goodyear needs the independent dealers' help-again.
When Goodyear is in trouble and needs help, it asks its dealers, then has forgotten them after getting their help-many, many times.
Goodyear says its dealers are its greatest asset. Goodyear is the dealers' greatest liability.
All American Tire & Service Co.