The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), which represents tire manufacturers in the U.S., recently conducted a survey to gauge “awareness” about proper tire maintenance among the general public – and the findings may surprise you:
· Men are more likely than women to be "tire smart," according to the survey, a term that means they: know to check tire pressure monthly; know to check tires when they are cold (before driving) and; know where to find the correct inflation pressure for their vehicle's tires, usually a label located on the driver's door or door jamb or in the owner's manual.
· Yet only a small portion of motorists from each gender – about 20% of men and 14% of women—are considered to be "tire smart" based on the definition above.
· A more stark difference exists between generations as 27% of drivers aged 60 and older are considered "tire smart" while only 8% of drivers aged 18 to 39 know the basic tips for properly checking tire pressure.
Now, why should truckers care about the general motoring public’s apparent lack of baric tire care knowledge? Well, not only are they operating vehicles in and around big rigs at highway speed (often none too safely) those same drivers make up the pool of recruits for truck drivers – and lack of proper tire care comes with far more consequences in trucking.
[The video below helps outline the vital role tire maintenance plays in maintaining one’s CSA score. Note: you’ll need to wade through about two minutes of disclaimers and music to reach the video proper … and keep a sharp eye out for noted Fleet Owner columnist Kevin Rohlwing, too!]
RMA also notes that under inflated tires pose a safety risk, waste fuel and cause premature tire wear. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes involving tires contribute to 195 fatalities annually, while the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that properly inflated tires can save about 11 cents a gallon at today's gas prices.
In trucking’s case, proper tire maintenance can prolong tire life and reduce costs. Indeed, you can watch a video I shot several years ago below with Goodyear’s Bobby Ford talking about the how one can identify various tire issues from the wear patterns they display:
Just goes to show that tires often play a far more important role in efficient and safe vehicle operation than many think. That’s a good thing to be reminded of every now and again, too.