Michelin North America Inc. aims to improve driver safety in the U.S. with a new marketing program targeted at high school drivers' education teachers and offered through its Alliance tire dealer network.
Starting in late April, the tire maker will provide Alliance dealers with a tire maintenance education module and instructions on how to implement the program in their local markets. Michelin has dubbed the program T.I.R.E.S., which stands for Training Instructional Resources for Enhancing Safety.
``It's an A-to-Z information kit of what should be communicated to young drivers about tire safety,'' said John Soule, Michelin brand light truck tire category manager. ``Our intent is to give Alliance dealers the tools they can use to go to drivers' education teachers, and schools and drivers' education program coordinators.''
The program is a ``win-win for tire dealers to be involved, and you're educating people about tire safety,'' said tire dealer Olin Mott, founder of Olin Mott Tire Co. in Tampa, Fla. Drivers' education classes, he added, talk about driving but don't talk much about tires.
Michelin modeled its drivers' education program after the one Mr. Mott and his son Rick established several years ago in school districts in their local Hillsborough County.
``I know it pays off,'' Mr. Mott said about coordinating with drivers' education programs and teaching young people about the importance of tires. ``No. 1, the kids go home and talk to their parents about it, and the teachers become a salesman for you at no cost.''
In addition, by working with students, ``you're looking at the future to sell them tires,'' he said.
``I'm excited about it,'' Mr. Mott said of the program. ``I feel everyone can use more information about tires and tire safety.''
In developing its program, Michelin determined that ``drivers' education programs nationwide don't have enough information about tires and the role they play in the safety of our own children,'' Mr. Soule said.
Michelin will provide the education modules to dealers, then it will be up to them to contact their local schools and pitch the program, he explained.
The kit includes a video covering topics such as the importance of placing two new tires on the rear axle, the effect of low tire pressure on vehicle handling, what to do in the event of a blowout and how to reduce the chance of hydroplaning.
It also comes with a tire cross section that drivers' education teachers can use to explain how tires are more than round and black with air-but instead are highly technical products that must be maintained, Mr. Soule said.
The kit also provides a step-by-step presentation, in both hard copy and electronic formats, to guide drivers' education teachers in presenting the information.
This way ``we get a consistent message,'' he said.
Development of the tire maintenance education module is an outgrowth of Group Michelin's focus on corporate responsibility.
``Our global mission is to contribute to the progress of mobility of people and goods by facilitating the freedom, safety, efficiency and enjoyment of travel,'' Mr. Soule said.
For many years, the general consensus concerning mobility was the more the better, he said. ``But the world has reached a point where more is not necessarily better. So Michelin is now focused on ways of improving mobility by considering how it affects the environment and impacts safety.''
The Greenville-based tire maker is rolling out the drivers' education program in the U.S. first. Based on its acceptance, the company said it may extend the program to its Alliance dealers in Canada and Mexico.