Warm weather means more young drivers on the road as they head to summer jobs, parties and embark on road trips. Often, young drivers feel invincible, but they shouldn’t take their safety for granted.
Many experts say driver safety begins with tires, as they are the only thing connecting a car to the road. To help teens and young adults stay safe on the roads this summer and all year long, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company and the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) offer these tire safety tips.
• Check tire condition. Damaged tires can shorten tire life and even cause tire failure. Visually check tires for cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. If any of these conditions are spotted, or if there are any doubts about the condition of the tires, have them professionally inspected.
• Check tire pressure. Proper air pressure improves fuel consumption and helps prevent uneven wear of tires. It also offers drivers better control, which is important for those with less experience behind the wheel. More than 50 percent of American vehicles have at least one under-inflated tire, according to a Rubber Manufacturers Association survey.
To test pressure, wait until tires are cool — a minimum of three hours after driving. Then, remove the tire’s valve cap and press the top of a tire pressure gauge firmly on the valve stem. A reading will pop up on the gauge. If the reading is lower than the recommended level, add air and check again. Once the recommended pressure is reached, replace the valve cap.
• Check tire tread. Proper tread depth helps maintain traction, improves handling of the vehicle and prevents hydroplaning. To check it, insert the edge of a penny into the most worn groove of the tire tread, with Lincoln’s head down and facing the driver. If the top of Lincoln’s head is covered by tread, there is at least a minimum acceptable amount of tread. If the top of his head is visible at any point, it’s time to replace the tire.
• Make it a habit. Technology can prepare young drivers for safer driving. For example, the free Tread Wisely app from Cooper Tire and NOYS, informs users how to check their tires using helpful videos and allows them to set automatic monthly reminders to perform tire checks. Other videos on the app instruct young drivers how to change a flat tire, what to do if they are in an accident, and how to handle other issues on the road. The app also includes a unique “I got there” feature, which reminds young drivers to let parents or friends know after they make it to their destination safely, using pre-loaded text messages.
More tire tips and information about the Tread Wisely app can be found at TreadWisely.org.
“As a parent, you can’t help but worry,” says race car driver Johnny Unser, whose teen daughter Loni uses the Tread Wisely app. “However, you can give your kids the tools and information they need to succeed out there on the road.” ■