To help drivers stay safe on the road, NHTSA has developed a resource called TireWise that educates drivers on the importance of tire safety. Driving on tires that are well-maintained and regularly inspected can prevent many motor vehicle accidents that result in serious injuries and death. In 2017, there were 738 traffic fatalities in the U.S. related to problems with vehicle tires.
Stay Safe on the Road with Good Tires
Driving on good tires is essential to safe driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 738 people lost their lives in tire-related crashes in 2017.
To help reduce the number of deadly tire-related crashes, the NHTSA developed TireWise. A resource that informs drivers about tire safety, TireWise is designed for consumers, tire manufacturers, sellers, and other related entities. It provides essential information to consumers for making smart decisions about tire purchases and important tire maintenance.
Tire blowouts on cars and trucks are a leading cause of tire-related deaths. Blowouts are commonly the result of ill-maintained tires, as well as road conditions.
Purchasing New Tires
When purchasing new tires, consumers should make sure they buy the right tires for their vehicle and their location. Tire performance and maintenance will vary by location and climate conditions. Winter tires are most effective in locations with deep snow, while summer tires are designed for warm-weather conditions and don’t perform well in freezing temperatures with snow and ice. All-season tires are made to handle a variety of road conditions, and they have some mud and snow capabilities. All-terrain tires are designed for four-wheel drive vehicles, so they provide good performance for on-road and off-road driving.
In the U.S., tires are rated by the federal government on their tread wear, traction performance, and temperature resistance. These ratings, referred to as the Uniform Tire Grading Standards, are shown on tire sidewalls for all vehicle tires sold in the U.S. To help consumers purchase new tires, NHTSA has rated over 5,580 lines of tires commonly used on passenger vehicles, SUVs, minivans, and light pickup trucks.
Checking the Uniform Tire Grading Standards prior to purchasing new tires will inform and educate consumers on important tire safety features including proper tire size, tread wear, traction performance, and temperature resistance.
- Tire Size – Proper tire size for a vehicle is indicated on the driver’s side door edge or in the vehicle owner’s manual. Information listed on proper tire size and tire pressure should be followed by drivers for maximum tire safety.
- Tread Wear – Ratings for tire tread wear indicate a tire’s wear rate. The higher the treadwear number, the longer it will take for the tread to wear down. Treadwear ratings range from 100 to 600 on currently rated tire standards.
- Traction Performance – Ratings for traction performance indicate a tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement. Traction is graded from highest to lowest as “AA”, “A”, “B”, and “C”. A higher rating means that a vehicle will stop on wet pavement in a shorter distance.
- Temperature Resistance – Temperature ratings of “A”, “B”, or “C”, indicate a tire’s resistance to heat. This is an important safety factor because many tire blowouts occur when tires deteriorate while driving in hot weather on hot pavement.
Proper tire maintenance is just as important as purchasing the right tires. Regular maintenance keeps tires properly inflated, increases tread wear, and promotes fuel efficiency. Poorly-maintained tires are the cause of many vehicle accidents and injuries every year.
Drivers should check the pressure of all tires, including spare tires, at least once each month. Proper tire pressure can be found on the Tire and Loading Information Label on the driver’s side door edge or in the vehicle owner’s manual. Many vehicles are equipped with sensors that monitor tire pressure as well. Since improper tire pressure can lead to tire problems that cause car accidents, drivers should make sure their tires are properly inflated at all times.
Tire tread should be checked each time tire pressure is checked. Tires have built-in tread wear indicators, raised sections that run in between the tire’s tread. If the tread is level with the tread indicator, tires should be replaced. Tires with tread below 2/32 of an inch are not safe.
Balance and Alignment
Balancing the tires makes the wheels rotate properly and prevents the vehicle from shaking. A wheel alignment keeps tires straight while driving, so the vehicle doesn’t veer to the right or left. New tires should always be balanced when installed on the vehicle.
Safety experts recommend rotating tires every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Rotating the tires helps to reduce uneven tread wear, prolong the life of the tires, and promote fuel efficiency.