The most recent National Tire Safety Week was just about everything the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) hoped it would be, and this year's success will be something the organization can build on, a top official said.
``It's encouraging that more retailers are taking advantage of the program,'' said Dan Zielinski, RMA vice president of communications. ``They're finding that having a free tire pressure check lane is good publicity and good business, as well as a good way to demonstrate the importance of proper tire inflation.''
April 22-28 represented the 6th National Tire Safety Week the RMA has sponsored since 2002, as part of the association's ``Be Tire Smart-Play Your PART'' program. The RMA had many partners in the effort, including the American Automobile Association (AAA), the Tire Industry Association, and more than 17,000 individual tire outlets representing mom-and-pop stores, major tire dealership chains and big retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
RMA officials were present at seven different events across the U.S., some of which actually took place the week of April 15 because of the crowded schedule, Mr. Zielinski said.
The National Tire Safety Week events scheduled in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta didn't have the customer turnout the RMA had anticipated. But the turnouts in Cincinnati and Jacksonville, Fla., were stellar, each with more than 25 motorists turning up to have their tires checked while RMA officials were present.
``That happens sometimes,'' Mr. Zielinski said. ``All Wal-Mart stores were encouraged to set up tire check lanes, and some did it more enthusiastically than others.''
The programs in Plymouth, Mass., and Sacramento, Calif., were particularly gratifying, Mr. Zielinski said. The Sacramento event was held at California Highway Patrol (CHP) headquarters, with the CHP collaborating with the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIMWB).
The CIMWB has begun a pilot version of what it calls a ``Tire Sustainability Program,'' in which it seeks to teach California motorists how to be environmentalists in relation to tires, he said. The board sees National Tire Safety Week as an integral part of that program.
``To the CIMWB, getting the most mileage out of your tires is very pro-environment,'' he said. ``The longer a tire lasts, the longer you keep it out of the waste stream.''
The RMA discussed a Tire Sustainability Program for years with the CIMWB, and now is collaborating with the board on a pilot program, Mr. Zielinski said.
Interest in National Tire Safety Week, however, goes far beyond California, he noted. During the week, the governors of 24 states issued proclamations supporting National Tire Safety Week.
``There's not a state we've talked to that hasn't done at least some outreach,'' he said. ``Texas distributed our brochures, and Pennsylvania worked with retailers in the states to do media events.''
Also, the RMA has been working with the Arizona Office of Highway Safety, to collaborate with AAA and Discount Tire Co. to distribute tire safety information within that state.
The efforts of individual retailers have been invaluable to the success of National Tire Safety Week, according to Mr. Zielinski. In the Tire Sustainability Program, for example, Les Schwab Tire Centers Inc. agreed to run CIWMB-produced radio public service announcements in its rotation of advertising.
Pep Boys-Manny, Moe, and Jack did media events in 10 markets around the Philadelphia area where it's based, Mr. Zielinski added. Dunn Tire Co. in Erie, Pa., did media outreach, as did Tire Works Car Care in Las Vegas.
For this National Tire Safety Week, RMA officials including President Donald Shea conducted a total of 15 interviews with Courtney Hansen, host of Fox Sports Net's ``Destination Wild'' show.
Ms. Hansen has written a book due in November called ``The Garage Girl's Guide to Everything You Need to Know About Your Car.''
There also were 30 radio interviews for networks and stations including CNN Radio, and public service announcements (PSAs) sent to 3,000 stations across the U.S.
These PSAs run throughout the year, reaching a potential radio audience of more than 80 million, according to Mr. Zielinski.
The number of tire dealers participating this year was 2,000 more than last year, but Mr. Zielinski said he doesn't expect 2,000 more to sign up next year.