Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Monday, July 1, 2002.

Contact Bill Roach - 515-281-5536.

Tire Safety Tips for Hot-Weather Travel

"Hot roads, overloaded vehicles and improper tire inflation can be a deadly combination," Miller said.

DES MOINES. Attorney General Tom Miller today announced a tire-safety campaign aimed at alerting consumers that improperly-inflated tires pose a serious threat especially for travelers in the hottest summer months.

Miller said the "Safe Trip Campaign" is sponsored by state attorneys general and funded with $5 million paid last November by Bridgestone/Firestone company. The $5 million is part of a total of $51.5 million the company paid the states in connection with the states' lawsuits over defective tires and misrepresentations by Bridgestone/Firestone in promoting and replacing the tires.

"The case helped demonstrate the importance of tire safety," Miller said. "Now the Safe Trip Campaign focuses on something that can really save lives - good tire maintenance and proper inflation."

Col. Robert Garrison, Chief of the Iowa State Patrol, joined Miller at the State Capitol today. Garrison emphasized tire safety tips and demonstrated basic steps to check for proper inflation.

Miller said the public education campaign, which includes TV and radio public service ads and a consumer-education web site at www.safetrip.org, is focused on the summertime holidays, including the Fourth of July and Labor Day.

"Summer is the peak of vacation travel as well as hot weather," Miller said. "Hot roads, overloaded vehicles and improper tire inflation can be a deadly combination. We urge consumers to take basic steps to check their tires and protect themselves and their families."

Miller said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, estimates that proper tire inflation alone could prevent 6,600 to 10,600 injuries each year and save 50 to 80 lives in the U.S. Improper inflation, especially when combined with heat and overloading, can cause sagging, undue stress on tires and rims, cracking, splitting, blowouts, and crashes.

Miller said NHTSA also estimates that one in four US passenger vehicles has one or more substantially underinflated tires. NHTSA found that 27 percent of cars and 32 percent of vans, pickups and SUVs had at least one underinflated tire; on many vehicles all four tires are underinflated. Miller said the NHTSA findings suggest that over 800,000 of Iowa's 3.2 million cars could have at least one underinflated tire.

"Improper inflation may not be obvious," Miller said. "It's important to use an air pressure gauge to check it, and the experts advise us to check pressure at least once a month even if tires look okay. Tires lose air so regular checks are important."

Tire Safety Tips

Miller and Col. Garrison urged consumers to follow basic tips, including:

  • Check pressure in all tires at least once a month.
  • Use a tire gauge, which is available for as little as $3 to $5 at auto parts stores and gas stations.
  • Check tire pressure when tires are cool for the most accurate reading.
  • Use the automaker's recommended tire pressure. (A printed card or sticker usually is found on a doorjamb, inside the glove box lid, or inside the fuel cap .)
  • Check tread. (Experts say to insert a penny in the tread groove with Lincoln head down; if you see the top of Lincoln's head, the tread is too shallow and it's time to replace the tire.)
  • Don't overload the vehicle.
  • Miller urged consumers to visit the education campaign web site -- www.safetrip.org -- for more good information and tips about tire safety and proper inflation.

    Miller said a new survey conducted by the state attorneys general indicates that almost every driver considers proper inflation to be important to car safety - but 60 percent don't know they should check their pressure at least once a month, and almost half are unable to identify where to find the correct tire pressure for their vehicle. (About one-quarter mistakenly believe it's on the tire itself when in fact the pressure is listed on the printed placard or sticker in the vehicle.)

    "This is a case where good information plus simple action by consumers will save lives," Miller said. "With vacation travel and our sizzling weather, now is the time for people to act."

    Background on the Bridgestone/Firestone states' cases:

    Starting in August 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone company recalled and replaced millions of tires in the wake of reports that some tires failed suddenly, allegedly causing thousands of accidents and more than 250 deaths. States alleged that the company sold defective tires and made misrepresentations in promoting the tires and during the replacement process. In November, the company reached a nationwide settlement with all fifty states and paid a total of $51.5 million for consumer restitution, payments to states, and consumer education. Iowa received $528,000 - $500,000 that was received by every state, plus $28,000 in litigation and cost-share payments. Attorney General Miller said the entire $528,000 went to the State of Iowa general fund.

    "This is a good example of multi-state cooperation that ended up benefitting people all over the nation," Miller said.

    The nationwide consumer education "Safe Trip Campaign" features the www.safetrip.org web site and radio and TV ads focused on the three peak summer travel holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

    The ads urge drivers to check their tires regularly, because "even if your tires look fine, it doesn't mean they're properly inflated - so take a minute to check them out." The ads remind drivers, "take care of your tires - they take care of you," and the ads encourage consumers to go to the web site for more information.

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