WASHINGTON—For the second time in a week, an organization concerned with tire safety has used the “deflategate” underinflated football scandal as a metaphor for improperly inflated tires.
Nearly seven out of 10 U.S. vehicles have at least one underinflated tire, said Dan Zielinski, senior vice president-public affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, in a Jan. 29 news release timed to appear just before the Super Bowl on Sunday.
“Underinflated tires put motorists at a higher risk on the road and waste gasoline,” Zielinski said. “Curiously, it's an underinflated football that has captured national attention.”
Zielinski quoted federal statistics showing that underinflated tires are three times more likely to be a factor in car crashes compared with properly inflated tires. The RMA recommends that all motorists check their tire inflation pressures at least once a month and always before long trips, he said.
“If you're driving on Super Bowl Sunday, you should check your tire pressure first, then check your football,” Zielinski said.
The National Transportation Safety Board posted its own “deflategate” tire safety warning on its website Jan. 23.
“Planning a (Super Bowl) party for hardcore fans?” wrote Don Karol, director of the NTSB's Office of Highway Safety. “Ask them what the NFL found out about the footballs in ‘deflategate.' They'll probably tell you without missing a beat that 11 of 12 balls were underinflated by 2 pounds per square inch.
“Then ask them when they last checked the pressure of the tires on their vehicles,” Karol wrote.
Karol quoted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as saying that nearly 11,000 highway crashes and nearly 200 highway deaths each year are attributable to tires. He recommended several tire-related safety websites, including the RMA's “Be Tire Smart—Play Your P.A.R.T.”