WASHINGTON (Sept. 23, 2013) — "In the Garage," a pending National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) infographic, contains misleading information about tires and should be revised before issuance, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) has told the agency.
The statistic in "In the Garage" relating to deaths caused by tire failures is confusing and lacks context, TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield said in a Sept. 19 letter to NHTSA.
"First of all, TIA is unaware of any data that quantifies what led to the tire failures in the first place," Mr. Littlefield wrote.
"It is one thing to say that '400 people die every year as a result of tire failure due to improper inflation' and something completely different to just say any number of people die as the result of tire failure.
"The message as it stands tells consumers that tires are dangerous products because they kill hundreds of people each year," he said. "The actual number is inconsequential because it does not tell the whole story unless it is tied directly to the lack of maintenance."
A program designed to educate consumers on tire fuel efficiency and maintenance should concentrate on those issues, Mr. Littlefield said. The slant of the infographic as it stands would only lead to trial lawyers' using the graphic as proof in lawsuits that tires are unsafe, he said.
NHTSA could use the space in the graphic better to educate consumers on the significance of tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) and dashboard warning lights indicating when a tire is dangerously underinflated, Mr. Littlefield said.