Many U.S. Drivers “Under Pressure”

Survey Finds Fewer Motorists Checking Tire Pressure

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.April 23, 2007 - U.S. drivers are less attentive to their tires than a year ago, according to a nationwide survey. Just over 50 percent of drivers say they have checked their tire pressure within the past month compared to 70 percent last year at a time when fuel prices peaked.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) urges motorist to check tire pressure each month to promote vehicle safety, improve fuel efficiency and maximize tire longevity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that low tire pressure-related crashes are to blame for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries every year. NHTSA estimates that about one in four cars and one in three light trucks has at least one significantly under inflated tire.

“Low tire pressure is a safety concern,” said Donald B. Shea, RMA President and CEO. “Our most recent survey suggests that when gas prices began to drop last fall, so did drivers’ attention to their tires. Motorists need to understand that tire pressure is more than just saving a couple of dollars at the pump.”

Driver complacency may grow as mandatory tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) begin to be installed in vehicles. In 2008, all new cars will be equipped with a TPMS that will alert drivers when tire pressure drops 25 percent. Survey results indicate that more than two-thirds of drivers said that they would be less concerned with regular tire maintenance if their vehicle were equipped with TPMS.

“Tire pressure monitors are not a replacement for using a tire gauge every month,” said Shea. “Since tire pressure monitors only issue a warning after a significant drop in tire pressure, motorists are risking tire damage by ignoring regular maintenance.”

An RMA nationwide survey conducted in February found:

  • Only 55 percent of drivers say they have checked tire pressure within the past month compared to 70 percent last year when fuel prices peaked.
  • A total of 40% of drivers said that if their vehicle were equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, they would either never check tire pressure (16%) or would only check tire pressure if they saw the dashboard warning light (24%).
  • Nearly seven in ten drivers wash their vehicle every month but barely more than half check tire pressure monthly.
  • 45 percent of drivers wrongly believe that the correct inflation pressure is printed on the tire sidewall. Another 15 percent do not know where to find the correct pressure.
  • 26 percent of drivers wrongly believe that the best time to check their tires is when they are warm after being driven for at least a few miles.
  • 63 percent of motorists cite checking tire pressure as a top fuel saving tip. (2006 survey)

These alarming statistics are a critical reason why RMA is sponsoring the sixth annual National Tire Safety Week, which runs April 22 – 28. National Tire Safety Week is an initiative of RMA’s “Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART” program to educate motorists about the importance of proper tire care and promote a safer driving experience. PART stands for pressure, alignment, rotation and tread, the four key elements of tire care.

More than 17,000 tire dealers, auto dealers, AAA clubs and others throughout the country will make RMA tire care information brochures available to consumers during National Tire Safety Week. Additionally, most tire retail locations provide free tire pressure services to motorists throughout the year.

Partners in the Be Tire Smart program include tire retailers, auto dealers, safety advocates and state government agencies. Among the list of Be Tire Smart partners are: AAA, American Car Care Centers, Big 10 Tires, Belle Tire, Big O Tires, Discount Tire Co., Dunn Tire, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Goodyear Auto Service Centers, Just Tires, Kaufman Tire, Les Schwab, Merchant’s Tire, National Tire and Battery (NTB), National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), Northwest Tire, Peerless Tires, Pep Boys, ProCare Automotive Services, Sears Automotive Centers, STS Tire and Auto Centers, Sullivan Tires, Tire Factory, Tire Kingdom, Tires Plus, Town Fair Tires, VIP Parts, Tires and Service, Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club and many others.

More information about the “Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART” program and National Tire Safety Week can be found at www.betiresmart.org.

The Be Tire Smart program is funded by RMA’s tire manufacturer members: Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., Continental Tire North America, Inc., Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Michelin North America, Pirelli North America, Inc., Toyo Tire North America and Yokohama Tire Corporation.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.