Millions of Motorists Need to “Get a Grip”

Survey Shows 28 Million Vehicles with At Least One Bald Tire!

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

WASHINGTON, D.C.November 19, 2010 - Millions of drivers are putting themselves at increased risk by driving with one or more bald tires. A tire industry survey showed that nearly 11 percent of vehicles had at least one bald tire, which can increase the risk of a crash particularly in wet weather conditions.

According to AAA, 94 percent of Thanksgiving travelers this year will drive to their destination. Of the estimated 254 million motorists who hit the road nearly 28 million could be at risk by driving on bald tires.

The 6,300 vehicle survey was sponsored by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), the national trade association of tire manufacturers in the U.S. RMA is urging motorists to regularly check tire tread depth and replace worn out tires before they become a safety risk.

According to RMA checking tread depth is simple and only costs a penny. To do the “penny test,” take a penny; insert Abe Lincoln’s head upside down into the tread. If you can see all of his head, your tire is 2/32nds of an inch deep or less and should be replaced.

Tires also have “wear bars” built into them. These are indicators that appear when you have worn your tread down to the limit. These indicators are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear “even” with the outside of the tread, it’s time for tire replacement.

Other RMA research shows that 64 percent of motorists do not know how to tell if tires are bald and 9 percent never check their tires’ tread depth.

“Your tires are a critical vehicle safety component,” said Charles Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “Worn out tires cannot grip the road properly, increase stopping distances and can contribute to skidding or loss of vehicle control.”

Under wet weather conditions, bald tires can hydroplane, which occurs when the tire is riding on a film of water. This can lead to a loss of vehicle control and increase the risk of a crash.

Not only are too many motorists not paying attention to tread depth, they also are ignoring tire inflation pressure. Under inflated tires also pose a safety risk, wear out faster and increase vehicle fuel consumption.

A survey released by RMA earlier this year of more than 6,300 vehicles’ tire pressure conducted in March-May 2010 found:
• Only 17% of vehicles had four properly inflated tires.
• 55% of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire.
• 15% of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 8 pounds per square inch (psi.)

Tire inflation pressure should be checked every month and before long trips. To properly check tire pressure, motorists should check once each month; check tires when cold – before the vehicle is driven and; use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on a label located on the driver’s door or door post or check the owner’s manual.

While basic tire maintenance only takes a few minutes each month, many tire retailers nationwide offer tire pressure and tread depth check at no charge.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that make tires in the U.S.