WASHINGTON (June 4, 2012)—Kicking off the 11th annual National Tire Safety Week June 3, the Rubber Manufacturers Association said in its most recent survey only 15 percent of U.S. drivers knew how to check tire pressures properly.
In 2003, the year after National Tire Safety Week was first launched, that figure was 14 percent.
“I would say that, over the years, we've seen some incremental improvements,” said a spokesman for the RMA. In 2001, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 30 percent of vehicles had at least one tire underinflated by 8 psi or more, he said. In the RMA's most recent study, that figure was reduced to 15 percent.
Motorists rarely feel their tires present a risk, which makes them less likely to heed tire safety advice, the RMA spokesman said.
“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.”
The RMA tried early on to introduce tire safety information into driver's-education classes, the spokesman said, but this effort had only limited success.
For one thing, school-based driver's-education courses have given way over time to private instruction, the spokesman said. For another, no state includes tire safety information in driver's tests.
The spokesman said the RMA is fortunate in its partners in National Tire Safety Week—including AAA, the Tire Industry Association and major tire dealership chains—which help the RMA to maintain a constant level of tire safety information flowing to consumers year-round.
“Just because not as many people are listening as we'd like doesn't mean we shouldn't keep repeating the message,” he said.
In addition to demonstrating that only 15 percent of drivers know how to check tire pressures, the RMA phone survey of 1,000 drivers also showed the following:
—62 percent of drivers don't know where to find the correct inflation pressures for their tires.
—43 percent of drivers don't know they should check tire pressures before driving, rather than after.
—83 percent of vehicles did not have four properly inflated tiers.