Events surrounding the recently concluded Tire Safety Week lead one to ask: “Just who does bear responsibility for proper tire care?”
Drilling into the Rubber Manufacturers Association's press releases over the past 10 years of Tire Safety Weeks could lead one to conclude the driving public is no more tire savvy now than it was a decade ago.
In a few cases, that's exactly what the results of surveys then and now show.
Perhaps the problem is that the product is simply too reliable.
Motorists rarely feel their tires present a risk, an RMA spokesman said in response to a Tire Business query, which makes them less likely to heed tire safety advice.
“Fortunately, that situation arises because tires are so darn good,” he said. “For people who don't take care of their tires, the worst thing that usually happens is that they have to replace their tires sooner.”
Does this mean the industry's identity crisis in 2001, which led to the birth of Tire Safety Week, has faded?
“Just because not as many people are listening as we'd like doesn't mean we shouldn't keep repeating the message,” the spokesman said.
A sanguine sentiment, perhaps, but one sharply contrasted by NHTSA estimates that underinflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries in the U.S. each year.
Obviously, the message needs to get out and somehow improved.
So where's the best place and method to spread the message so it'll have more impact?
It would seem the logical way would be to hit drivers with a tire safety message when they're starting out—in drivers' education classes.
Alas, the RMA said it tried this approach earlier but the effort had only limited success for a number of reasons, including the shift to private instruction and the lack of tire safety information in drivers' tests.
It appears, then, it's going to take a more widespread grassroots effort to effect change in this area.
Already dozens of dealers and tire retailers are involved in some sort of Tire Safety Week events, but perhaps there needs to be more of a year-round campaign.
Maybe it's time to start campaigning in state legislatures to get tire safety information into the drivers' license test literature,…or to prod driving instruction firms to incorporate some sort of tire safety message into their programs.
Heck, most drivers' ed programs these days don't even bother to show students how to change a tire,… or even where to find the jack!
Back to the question posed at the start of this editorial. Maybe it's down to you and me—parents, siblings, employers, co-workers—to take up the cross and spread the message.