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    Driving tire safety for teens: Road safety begins with the only part of the car that touches the road

    New research on driver’s education and training shows a gap in teen drivers’ knowledge – one that, if closed, could help prevent some of the nearly 300,000 car crashes involving inexperienced drivers every year.

    That knowledge gap concerns the only part of the car that actually touches the road: the tires. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) analysis of the 2.2 million car accidents in 2012 shows more than one in 10 (12 percent) were among inexperienced drivers and involved tire-related issues, such as insufficient tire tread or improperly inflated tires.

    Despite the importance of tire safety, only 16 states include comprehensive tire safety information in their driver’s education curricula, according to new data from Michelin North America and the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for world motor sport.

    Michelin and FIA conducted an audit of driver’s education curricula across all 50 states, as well as a survey of 1,001 teens and their parents. Surprisingly, only 49 percent of teens surveyed and 47 percent of parents believe their driver’s education program completely prepared them to drive.

    “Auto accidents are the top cause of death among American teens, claiming more than 5,000 lives each year, NHTSA data shows,” says Pete Selleck, chairman and president of Michelin North America. “Teenagers in this country are dying in car accidents or are involved in car crashes that are preventable, and require only very simple behavior changes.”

    The need for a behavior change when it comes to vehicle and tire maintenance is apparent, Selleck says. Of the teens surveyed, 27 percent admitted they never check tires, and less than half (48 percent) said they check tires at least monthly (the recommended frequency).

    Parents don’t have to wait for driver education courses to adopt tire safety lessons. They can begin teaching teenage drivers the basics of tire safety immediately. Michelin has joined with FIA to raise tire safety awareness through the “Beyond the Driving Test” educational program, and Selleck offers some advice:

    * Teach teens to do “the penny test” on their vehicle’s tires at least once a month. Place a penny in the tire groove with Lincoln’s head pointing down. If you can see all his head, the tire treads are too worn to be safe.

    * Demonstrate the proper use of a tire pressure gauge and teach teens to look for the recommended PSI on the label inside their car’s door jamb. Everyone should check tire pressure at least once a month.

    * Log on to with your teenage drivers and watch the instructional videos on tire pressure and tread wear together.

    “Tires are the only parts of a car that touch the road, so it makes sense that driving safety begins with tire maintenance,” Selleck says. “Driver’s education today has done many things well; however, it has generally ignored some key safety facts – driving with unsafe or improperly inflated tires – that can be life threatening.”

    To download a handy glove box guide with five simple tips to help you stay safe on the road, visit

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