In fact, according to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) improperly inflated tires account for more than 33 thousand injuries and 660 deaths annually. Much of that can be attributed to the 27 to 33 percent of vehicles with at least one tire under-inflated by more than eight pounds per square inch (psi).
What’s the reason for such disregard? Koplin says, “It’s a combination of things; primarily a lack of knowledge and effort. It’s natural to forget, but for the best driving safety results, checking your tire pressure should become a monthly routine. It only takes five minutes. If you’re not doing it once a month, chances you’re driving on under-inflated tires.”
The new school year means daily trips carrying your most precious cargo -- you and/or your kids. Whether you or your child gets behind the wheel, checking the tire pressure should become more than a chore, but a necessary part of owning a vehicle.
Yokohama’s Koplin offers a few more tips for improving tire safety:
* Check your tire pressure each time you wash your car. Seventy percent of owners wash their car each month, yet only 15 percent remember to check their tire pressure.
* Tires should be checked while cold, which means after sitting for at least three hours. Even driving just one mile causes a tire to heat up and gives inaccurate readings.
* Always inflate tires to the vehicle’s recommended pressure, usually labeled inside the driver’s door, fuel door, inside the glove box or in the owner’s manual. (The number on the tire’s sidewall is the maximum inflation pressure.) Over-inflation reduces the tire’s contact patch with the road, while under-inflation puts extra weight on its sidewalls and causes an unsafe increase in tire temperature.
* Use the “Lincoln’s Head” method to check tread depth: Place a penny head-first between the treads. If you can see Lincoln’s entire head then you have less than 2/32nds inch of tread depth left and the tire should be replaced.
Safety isn’t the only reason to monitor your tires. Tires that are under-inflated by just 6 to 7 psi can reduce fuel economy by 2 percent or more . . . and tread wear life by as much as 10 percent. Two trips to and from school each day, after-school activities, sports, errands . . . and the savings add up quickly. Proper tire care can also increase tread-life by up to 10 percent.
This year, as everyone scurries back and forth to school, remember to also add your vehicle to the study list, starting with the tires. You’ll get an “A” in safety.
You can find more information about tire care and safety at www.yokohamatire.com or visit the Rubber Manufacturers Association’s Web site at www.rma.org.