(LOS ANGELES, April 22, 2008) – Motorists can do their part today on Earth Day and throughout the year to help the environment, save gas and be safe with one simple action: checking their vehicle’s tire pressure, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Properly inflated tires improve vehicle safety while reducing emissions and gas usage, says the Auto Club.
The Auto Club™, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, representing the tire industry, the California Highway Patrol and Yokohama Tire Company joined forces during National Tire Safety Week, April 20-26, to draw drivers’ attention to the safety and economic benefits of basic tire care. The groups also are distributing 13,500 “tire tread depth cards” to consumers this week through the Auto Club’s local offices and Roadside Assistance providers. They fit easily into a wallet and can be used to check tire tread regularly. The Auto Club and RMA are also distributing “Tire Smart” brochures in AAA offices. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities also will check tires and pressure free of charge for members and the public during the promotion week. A list of repair facilities can be found at AAA.com.
“The Auto Club responds to about 144,000 tire-related calls annually, so we know the importance of correct inflation and good tire tread,” said Steve Mazor, manager of the Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center. “The Auto Club also advocates proper tire care to improve fuel economy, reduce vehicle emissions and increase motorists’ efforts toward greener living.”
Vehicle handling can be adversely affected by improperly inflated tires. Under-inflated tires run hot, which can lead to tire failure and a possible crash. Over-inflated tires can have uneven wear and make tires more susceptible to road hazard damage.
“A motorist survey this year by the Rubber Manufacturers Association found that 85 percent of American drivers do not properly check tire inflation pressure. This is an alarming statistic since tires are the only part of a vehicle in contact with the road and a critical vehicle safety component," said James MacMaster, chairman of the RMA Board of Directors.
"Drivers across the U.S. can battle rising gas prices by simply maintaining proper tire inflation," said Takao Oishi, Yokohama Tire Corporation CEO and president. "Current statistics indicate that 82 million vehicles have under-inflated tires, which means more rubber is hitting the road and, accordingly,miles-per-gallonis lessened. In fact, tire experts speculate that 3.6 billion gallons of gas is wasted by U.S. drivers each year simply because they're driving on under-inflated tires."
The Auto Club and its partners estimate that a Southern California motorist who drives an average of 12,000 miles annually on tires that are under-inflated by 5-8 PSI is wasting up to 50 gallons of gasoline, or $192.50 at today's average price of $3.85 a gallon. That’s close to the cost of a week’s worth of groceries ($226) for a family of four, according to the US Dept. of Agriculture. If there are two drivers in the family, that total comes to $380, well over a week’s worth of food for the family.
"The CHP's traffic safety commitment extends to safety campaigns like these which aim to reduce needless fatalities and injuries on California highways," said Sgt. Mark Garrett.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that under-inflated tires are a factor in 660 fatalities and 33,000 crash injuries each year. Additional research shows that 27 percent of passenger cars on U.S. roadways are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire, according to a NHTSA survey. Moreover, 32 percent of light trucks (SUVs, vans and pickup trucks) are driven with one or more substantially under-inflated tire, according to the study.
To demonstrate the importance of proper tire inflation, the automotive partners created a driving maneuverability course in the parking lot at TOYOTA Speedway at Irwindale using Ford Focus and Ford Fusion vehicles. Members of the news media drove vehicles with properly-inflated tires and others with under-inflated tires for comparison.
The Auto Club recommends that motorists regularly check tires when cool for uneven or excessive tread wear as well as proper inflation. Refer to the vehicle’s doorjamb or glove box for original equipment specifications or the manufacturer of the replacement tire for proper inflation. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch of air pressure) that’s right for tires is located on the vehicle’s tire information label – not the sidewall of the tire.
California and many other states have minimum tread depth laws. Passenger cars shouldn’t operate on tires below 2/32” tread depth. If you need to purchase new tires, be sure replacements meet manufacturers speed/load specifications for your vehicle.
The Automobile Club of Southern California, one of the largest AAA affiliates, has served members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization’s roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive testing and research, pricing and buying. Information about these products and services is available at AAA.com.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 80 companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. For more information about RMA, visit http://www.betiresmart.org/.
Yokohama Tire Corporation is the North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo, Japan-based the Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd., a global producer and distributor of premium tires since 1917. Servicing a network of more than 4,500 points of sale in the U.S., Yokohama Tire Corporation offers a complete line of tires, including high-performance, light truck, passenger car, commercial truck and bus, as well as off-the-road mining and construction applications. For more information on Yokohama's extensive product line, visit http://www.yokohamatire.com/. For details on Yokohama's environmental efforts, go to http://www.ecotreadsetters.com/.