While 96 percent of drivers consider underinflated tires a serious safety issue and 89 percent think properly inflated tires and an automatic warning system could save their life, a new national survey finds 42 percent of drivers still can’t accurately identify the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) dashboard warning symbol. According to a new consumer survey conducted on behalf of Schrader International — a global manufacturer of sensing and valve solutions — drivers’ recognition of TPMS, a global safety system that warns drivers of significantly underinflated tires, could still improve despite an overall increase from a 2010 comparison survey.
Recognizing this disconnect between what drivers consider crucial to their driving safety and their ability to recognize the important tire pressure warning symbol, Schrader, along with OEM car manufacturers, aftermarket service and repair leaders, and state and federal governments, are helping to further educate drivers on the importance of TPMS via a variety of supportive routes.
Schrader, for example, is working closely with its aftermarket retail partners to integrate the use of creative point-of-sale elements such as product displays, waiting room posters, consumer-focused videos and handouts, as well as online content to help inform the consumer in advance of a service conversation. OEM car manufacturers have also stepped up their marketing efforts in order to highlight new features available with Direct TPMS, such as advanced pressure-by-position displays and Tire Fill Alert that notifies the driver via a horn chirp and lights flash when tires are filled to their proper level of air pressure.
“At Schrader, we’re committed to making a difference in driver safety,” says Hugh Charvat, president and CEO of Schrader. “This begins with consumer education around how to recognize and what to do in a low tire-pressure situation, and continues with our dedication to delivering the best technology and operational performance in TPMS to our global original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers and aftermarket service partners.”
In 2000, following a series of fatal automobile crashes and a resulting nationwide tire recall, the United States Congress passed the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, which mandates, among other directives, that all new passenger cars, multi-purpose passenger vehicles and light trucks that weigh 10,000 pounds or less be equipped with a TPMS warning system. Today, 100 percent of vehicles model year 2008 and later are equipped with TPMS technology. Numerous states are also getting involved. For example, in 2010, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) implemented a mandatory pressure check with any vehicle service performed in California, and several states now include a properly functioning TPMS system as part of their periodic vehicle inspection testing for residents.
However, while estimates indicate more than 104 million vehicles in the U.S. are equipped with TPMS (and an estimated 91 percent of the entire U.S. vehicle population is expected to be TPMS-equipped by 2023), only 58 percent of drivers could properly identify the lifesaving TPMS warning symbol. This is why, when it comes to motorist safety, Schrader is shining a spotlight – or should we say a traffic light: Green (Good News), Yellow (Areas for Improvement) and Red (Staggering Facts) – on TPMS education and awareness.
Green Light (Good News)
- Drivers have expressed interest in safer and more environmentally friendly cars.
- 94 percent believe TPMS is an important safety feature to have in a vehicle, while 79 percent indicate it is important for environmental impact.
- 95 percent consider safety features and 72 percent environmental impact as important issues when shopping for a car.
- TPMS-equipped vehicles were estimated to save more than $511 million in 2011 through reduced fuel consumption.
- Nearly half of drivers surveyed (48 percent) would be likely to purchase TPMS for their car if they did not already have one installed.
- 51 percent of drivers report self-servicing underinflated tires at a gas station or car wash, while three in ten drivers visit professional service providers to resolve tire issues.
Yellow Light (Areas for Improvement)
- 1 in 10 drivers admit to having intentionally ignored a TPMS warning and continued to drive. Schrader strongly discourages this, and encourages motorists to understand and fully appreciated the severe safety risk associated with ignoring a TPMS warning.
- Younger Americans 18-34 (25 percent) are significantly more likely than their older counterparts (35-55, 15 percent; 55+, 13 percent) to admit they have intentionally ignored a TPMS warning light and continued to drive.
- 21 percent of drivers say they would continue driving until they could safely check their tires with the naked eye to see if there was an issue. Schrader encourages motorists to understand that it is virtually impossible to tell a tire is underinflated visually until it is nearly 50 percent deflated. The TPMS warning symbol will illuminate when one or more of the tires is 25 percent underinflated, at which point the tire is significantly underinflated and the vehicle is impaired (maneuverability, handling and braking distance).
- 42 percent of drivers rarely check their tire air pressure, with 34 percent of men saying they rarely do so compared to 50 percent of women. TPMS directly assists motorists by providing an automatic and visual warning when a tire is not inflated to its proper pressure level.
Red Light (Staggering Facts)
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports tires that are underinflated by more than 25 percent are three times more likely to be involved in a crash related to tire problems than a vehicle with proper inflation.
- According to NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Energy:
- Nearly 200,000 accidents caused by tire-related issues (annually)
- 660 highway fatalities due to underinflated tires (annually)
- 33,000 injuries due to underinflated tires (annually)
- 3.3 percent fuel economy benefit by keeping tires properly inflated
- 3.5 million gallons of gasoline wasted due to underinflated tires (daily)
As the drive for increased education progresses, so has the level of safety for U.S. motorists. In fact, the presence of TPMS has resulted in a 55.6 percent reduction in the likelihood that a vehicle would have one or more severely underinflated tires.
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