How much pressure should there be in your vehicle’s tires? Should the front tires have the same pressure as the rear? How can you tell if there’s not enough tread left on your tires to drive safely? Are under inflated tires really a bad thing, and if so, why?
A recent Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) initiative set out to demonstrate the dangers posed by something as seemingly innocent as under inflated tires, as well as the financial cost to the motorist, even if they’re not in an accident.
Some surprising findings about tire safety
In spite of the fact that June 5 to 11 marked the 10th anniversary of the annual National Tire Safety Week, an RMA survey has found that literally millions of drivers do not actually know how to properly inflate tires. Some of the more interesting statistics and findings revealed by the study included:
- About 85 percent of motorists admitted to not knowing how to properly inflate their tires, or to what pressure.
- Properly inflated tires are proven to improve fuel efficiency. Given the soaring cost of gasoline, motorists could save as much as 12 cents per gallon just by keeping the right amount of air in their tires. Considering it costs nothing to put air in your tires, this seems on the face of it to be a very sensible and easy means of saving money.
- Checking the pressure of your vehicle’s tires once a month takes about five minutes, or an average of just 10 seconds per day. Organizations such as the AAA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the RMA all feel that the potential for saving both money and lives makes those five minutes per month time well spent.
- The AAA estimates that it will come to the aid of no fewer than 1.2 million stranded American motorists with tire-related issues alone, just this summer!
Why are under inflated tires dangerous?
People driving on under inflated tires face two major issues. The first was recently demonstrated by a team of police driving instructors as part of a tire maintenance education program. At the beginning of the demonstration, the instructors put vehicles with properly inflated tires through a variety of maneuvers. Then they let a lot of air out of the tires and performed the same maneuvers at the same speeds but on under inflated tires. The results were astonishing, as the car’s performance was drastically affected and for no other reason than the loss of a few pounds of air pressure from the tires.
The second issue faced by drivers is also safety-related. RMA technical experts point out that under inflated tires generate heat inside the tire as well as out. If enough heat is generated, the tire can fail, and the results can be devastating.
Drivers can play their P.A.R.T.
The NHTSA is responsible for creating and enforcing national highway safety standards, including those for vehicles and tires. David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator, says that every tire sold in the U.S. is subjected to the most stringent testing requirements, but he stressed that drivers have to play their part in making sure those tires stay safe. “The only way to ensure the continued safety performance of tires is for consumers to play their part with regular maintenance, starting with inflation pressure,” Strickland said. “Without the right pressure, consumers are risking safety.”
To encourage drivers to be mindful about looking after their tires, the RMA has launched an initiative called, “Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART.” The acronym PART stands for the four basic but highly important elements of tire care. The letters stand for:
- P is for pressure. The leading cause of wear and tear on tires is under inflation. The RMA advises motorists to check and regulate their tire pressure just once a month.
- A is for alignment. If tires are not aligned properly, whether front or rear, it can cause very uneven and rapid tread loss. Bald tires are dangerous at any times but especially so in wet or icy conditions, or at high speeds, because they simply can’t grip the road as well as tires with proper tread depths.
- R is for rotation. To ensure your tires do wear evenly, rotating them regularly will help.
- T is for tread. Driving on bald tires is illegal and dangerous, so it’s important to keep an eye on how much life is left in your tires. After all, regardless of how many safety devices are built into your car, your tires are the only part of your car that ever comes into contact with the road. As such, your tires are perhaps the most important safety device on your vehicle.
The above may seem like stating the obvious, but the fact remains that during AAA Car Care Month, technicians carrying out vehicle safety inspections reported that tire issues were by far and away the number one problem found. At least 20 percent of all vehicles checked had incorrect tire pressure at the time of the inspection.
Portland car accident attorneys far too frequently see the results of people driving on unsafe tires. Car crashes leading to serious injuries or death are an everyday occurrence in Oregon, and it’s sad to think of the number of these crashes that could have been avoided simply by taking five minutes to carry out a monthly check of a vehicle’s tires that would cost the owner nothing.
In some cases, it’s not just the people in the car with the unsafe tires that get hurt. Other road users end up with horrible, painful injuries. If this has happened to you, then it’s not right that you should be left footing the bill for someone else’s carelessness. Contact an experienced and determined Portland car accident attorney for a free consultation. They will explain your rights and entitlements under Oregon law and then help you go about getting the compensation you deserve.