Study: 4 in 10 Teens Are Driving on Unsafe Tires


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I have been preaching and teaching for many years how important it is to check the tire pressure on your car as well as checking the tread life. A new study by Michelin reveals a high instance of wear and wrong tire pressure in cars driven by teenagers. It is especially critical with young drivers who tend to overreact in a tire blowout situation.

42% of Teens Polled Are Driving With Unsafe Tire Tread

The survey of U.S. teens conducted by Michelin North America in seven major U.S. cities reveals that 42 percent are driving with unsafe tire tread, and 40 percent are driving with improper tire pressure.

Improperly maintained tires pose real risks: Of the 2.2 million U.S. accidents each year, nearly 300,000 involve teen drivers and are related to tire issues such as worn treads and over- or under-inflated tires, according to analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“The fact that car crashes remain the No. 1 killer of our teens is a national tragedy,” said Scott Clark, chairman and president of Michelin North America. “Many teens say they know the simple steps that make their tires safe, but too few are actually using their knowledge. It’s time to move our teen drivers from awareness to life-saving action.”

Additional Survey Findings

The survey commissioned by Michelin polled 16- to 19-year-old drivers in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle in March 2018.

In addition to the data showing that 4 in 10 are driving on unsafe tires, additional data underscore the need to move teens from tire safety awareness to action:

  • Most teens (75 percent) say they know about tire maintenance, but three-quarters of them say they let others take responsibility for the maintenance of their vehicles.

  • 2 in 5 (43 percent) have never checked their tire tread depth, while 1 in 3 (32 percent) have never checked tire pressure.

  • However, the majority of teen drivers agree they should check their tire pressure (56 percent) and tire tread (57 percent) more often.


Beyond the Driving Test Program

To address this issue, Michelin is expanding its Beyond the Driving Test program. It was introduced in 2014 and set a goal of gaining commitments from all 50 U.S. states to include consistent information about tire safety in new driver training materials. That milestone was reached last year.

“On the surface, it might seem like teens care very little about tread depth or air pressure, but when you dig a little deeper, you discover that they’re very aware of the importance and the impact of these indicators — but only as it relates to their sneakers,” says Clark. “When we recognized this, we turned to one of the most popular and iconic sneaker manufacturers in the United States—Vans—and invited them to partner with us to help save teen lives.”

My recommendation has always been to not check the tires for teen drivers, but rather to teach them what to do, then follow-up to make sure they did it themselves.

Photo Credit: Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock.com
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