Michelin North America Inc. has released new data about driver’s education and training in the United States which finds that teenagers often lack the essential knowledge and skills that can help keep them safe on the roads.
“We found that teens are involved in 300,000 accidents a year that are tire-related, and that they’re involved in tire-related accidents at a higher level than adult drivers,” said Scott Clark, chief operating officer of Michelin North America’s Passenger Car And Light Truck Division.
“That was the catalyst for us to dive in deep on this subject and try and better understand what’s behind it. That’s where we discovered that teens just aren’t being educated about tire safety. They’re not being educated in driver’s education programs, or by their parents because they lack the knowledge.”
Clark said that tire dealers should get the message of tire safety to customers because it’s in the best interest of teens and parents. That message is about the tire basics of checking tread depth and checking air pressure.
“Independent dealers can reinforce this message with their customers about the importance of doing the basics. What was amazing in some of the research we did is the percentage of teens and parents who don’t know how to check tire pressure or tread depth. That’s where the independent dealer can add value to the consumer by helping educate them to do those things.”
Michelin says automobile accidents are the No. 1 killer of teens in America, with more than 5,000 deaths each year. Of the 2.2 million vehicle accidents per year, 12% are among inexperienced drivers and involve tire-related issues such as insufficient tire tread or improperly inflated tires, a number which is nearly three times higher than with experienced drivers. That equates to one accident every two minutes.
According to a new survey commissioned by Michelin North America and the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the governing body for world motor sport, only half of teens (49%) and their parents (47%) reported believing that their driver's education program completely prepared the teens to drive.
The two organizations also conducted an in-depth audit of driver’s education curricula in all 50 states. Only 16 states require tire safety information as part of driver’s education. Beyond this, only seven include tire safety information and require classroom time devoted to vehicle maintenance and tire safety.
To address the safety gap in the current U.S. driver’s education curriculum, Michelin and FIA are launching an effort to transform the way new drivers are trained, including mobilizing parental involvement, encouraging peer education and working to update the state-by-state Department of Motor Vehicles education curricula. Because many of these accidents are preventable, the partners joined together to launch the “Beyond the Driving Test” campaign to raise awareness of tire maintenance and safety.
In the short term, Michelin and FIA are working to make new resources available to help teens and parents brush up on their own car and tire maintenance skills, including a downloadable glove box guide with important tips. In addition, the partners are kicking off a new series featuring popular teen YouTube stars sharing tire safety tutorials.
In the longer term, Michelin and FIA say they are committed to rallying the industry to get involved and shape the future of America’s driver’s education curricula in an effort to help teens avoid accidents and save lives. The partners are calling for all 50 states to include tire safety information in their official driver's education materials by the year 2020.
To learn more about the research findings, as well as access educational resources, visit beyondthedrivingtest.com.