Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced a new program designed to get American drivers to invest in more fuel-efficient tires, as well as be more aggressive in tire maintenance in order to maintain fuel economy and reduce the chance for catastrophic tire failure.
Buried in the announcement was news that the long-awaited NHTSA rules establishing a new tire testing system; tire grading and labeling on fuel efficiency, safety and treadwear; and an accompanying consumer education program on tire care and the labeling program will be delayed for possibly another two years.
“Every year, there are roughly 11,000 tire-related vehicle crashes in the U.S. Many of these crashes can be prevented through proper tire maintenance – including tire inflation, balance, alignment, and rotation – and understanding tire labels, aging, recalls and complaints,” the White House said in a statement.
The Administration also said that making smarter choices with tire purchases and tire maintenance can cut fuel usage. “By enabling a driver to travel farther on a gallon of fuel, proper tire maintenance combined with the use of low rolling resistance tires could save a driver up to $80 per year, and avoid up to 560 pounds of annual carbon dioxide pollution, equivalent to nearly 600 miles of emission-free driving,” it said.
As part of the White House’s plan, several new initiatives, to be carried out by the Department of Transportation, were announced:
• A goal to finalize a rule establishing a tire fuel efficiency consumer program by 2017
• A partnership with NASCAR for a “Drive for Safety” campaign
• In collaboration with tire manufactures and tire retailers, a National Tire Safety Awareness Month is slated from Dec. 9, 2014 – Jan. 9, 2015
• The DOT also released a guide – “Be TireWise: Save Money at the Pump, Increase Efficiency and Protect Your Safety” – which is available to download here.
For seven years now, NHTSA has been developing a tire fuel efficiency testing, labeling and consumer information program. A completed and workable program has been promised numerous times in recent years, and yesterday’s announcement pushed the completion date back nearly two additional years.
“Although automobile manufacturers often equip new passenger cars and light trucks with low rolling resistance tires that are fuel efficient, consumers often replace a vehicle’s original tires with higher rolling resistance tires,” according to a White House release. “ A key component of the program will be to finalize a rule establishing a tire fuel efficiency consumer information program that will provide consumers with the information necessary to identify which tires are the most efficient. In fact, NHTSA estimates that if just 10% of aftermarket passenger car tires were upgraded to tires with a 10% improvement in rolling resistance, the annual savings would be more than $200 million from 72 million gallons of fuel and 690,000 metric tons of CO2, equivalent to the emissions from more than 1.6 billion miles of emission-free driving.”
Meanwhile the White House is also pushing NHTSA and the Environmental Protection Agency to “develop and issue the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016.”
Several tire companies have been engaged to participate in National Tire Safety Month activities. Below are just a few of the ways the tire manufacturers are participating:
Bridgestone Americas will provide free tire inspections at more than 2,200 Bridgestone Americas company-owned stores as well as maintain a website to inform consumers about tire safety and regular tire inspections; and promoting its Teens Drive Smart program.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will provide tire care education on its website, offer free inflation services at its company-owned retail stores and making tire care information available at Goodyear dealer and retail locations.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will provide tire safety information on its website as well as providing tire care messages on social media. Cooper will also provide a free tire safety kit to those who buy Cooper tires.
Michelin North America will support Tire Safety Month with its “Beyond the Driving Test” initiative to increase the awareness among teen drivers of the importance of tire maintenance and safety. The tiremaker also offers tire care information on its website.
Pirelli Tire North America will provide consumer tire care information on its website. The tiremaker also commits to promoting tire care and safety through the Be Tire Smart-Play Your Part program.
Continental Tire the Americas commits to working with tire dealers to educate them on the proper installation, inflation and use of tires so that consumers will achieve maximum safety and fuel efficiency benefits from their products. The tiremaker will also display consumer safety messages on their website and by providing tire maintenance and safety messaging on their social media channels.
Toyo Tire USA Corp. will promote the importance of tire inflation pressure as it relates to safety, and encourage consumers to perform routine checks of their tires. Toyo will also offer tire care information through its websites.
Yokohama Tire Corp. will provide tire care information on its website and its dealer network.
Discount Tire and TireRack.com have also committed to supporting Tire Safety Month.
For complete details from the White House click here.