Tire Safety Week Highlights Dangers of Underinflation

In accordance with the 11th annual National Tire Safety Week, AAA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) (www.rma.org) are this year highlighting tire pressure: the how’s, when’s and why’s. Based on their own recent survey data, the RMA concludes that only 15 percent of drivers in the United States know how to properly check their vehicle’s tire pressure.

Underinflated tires can cause stress on the rubber and lead to irregular or uneven wear on the tire. Using a stressed or uneven tire can lead to tread separation and blowouts, which can cause loss of vehicle control and possible result in an accident. In fact, the RMA also states that most recent data show 660 highway deaths attributed to improperly inflated tires.

Flat TireUnderinflated tires are an even worse problem during the heat of summer. In some areas, the heat of summer brings the road surface temperature up to an excess of 200 degrees. Underinflated tires coming into direct contact with such temperatures can cause accidents, as there is not enough air in the tire to keep the rubber cool. Without the proper amount of air, the tire runs hotter than normal, and can become hot enough to blow out.

The main reason behind the lack of proper tire maintenance may be surprising. Because of the reliability of modern tires, consumers seem to have confidence in their tires and, therefore, don’t often think they are going to fail or present any risk of injury. The perceived safety may be contributing to a dangerous situation.

For this reason, the RMA, in conjunction with AAA and National Tire Safety Week, suggests motorists properly check their tire pressure each month and, especially, if setting out on a long trip. Drivers should inspect and observe all tires visually. However, because tires can lose up to half of their air pressure and still not appear to be flat, it is important to perform a proper inflation pressure check using a reliable air pressure gauge as well.

In addition to accident prevention and road safety, it also important to know that, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, over 1 billion gallons of gasoline are wasted each year because of underinflated tires. Tires which are not inflated to the appropriate pressure simply do not perform on the road as efficiently as designed, and the added friction reduces gasoline miles per gallon.

For more information, visit the RMA’s National Tire Safety Week website at www.rma.org.