Dealers must play a role in NHTSA's consumer education research

Mike Manges
Posted on October 8, 2010

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing several methods of collecting feedback that will help it develop a consumer education program for tire buyers. I hope tire dealers are included in this process.

In early September, NHTSA revealed that it wants to conduct what it calls "two research phases." The first phase will include two focus groups in three cities. That doesn't bother me.

However, what worries me is the second phase of the project, which will entail "on-site interviews at various tire retailers," according to NHTSA officials. "NHTSA anticipates 25 respondents with each interview taking 25 minutes for a total of approximately 11 participant hours."

My question is, "Interviews with whom? Tire buyers? Tire dealers?"

Talking with tire buyers is fine, since they are the people who would supposedly benefit from a public education program.  But NHTSA absolutely needs to collect feedback from tire dealers if it hopes to craft an effective campaign. The onus to translate and transmit government-collected data about fuel efficiency, traction and other things will fall on the shoulders of dealers.

They are the folks on the "front lines" and make no mistake, they will be barraged with all kinds of questions from consumers about the government's tire fuel efficiency rankings.

Sure, the customer's voice needs to be heard, but in this case, dealers must take precedence. After all, Modern Tire Dealer research indicates that independent tire dealers influence the retail tire purchase at least 70% of the time. Here's hoping NHTSA gives dealers their due.

Related Topics: consumer tires, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, retail, tire education

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