From Car & Driver’s blog, excellent news that “…Michelin and the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile [FIA] (Foundation?) have secured commitments from all 50 U.S. states to include consistent tire-maintenance and safety information in their driver education programs.”
There are 51 booklets that can be thought of as state drivers’ manuals in the USA because, apart from the 50 actual states, DC has one, too. And back in 2006 — dare I say “bravely!” — I read them all and then wrote a research paper on my findings. It was published by the Society of Automotive Engineers [SAE] at their World Congress, in Detroit, in 2007. (For the sake of perspective, I will add that to my surprise and great pleasure, my presentation of the paper to a technically very adept audience won me an SAE award for being judged to be in the top five percent of the hundreds of papers presented by their authors at the multi-day event.)
Prior to writing the paper, I had written to the various states, in the hope of starting a discussion about the worrying standards and frankly often dangerous ‘advice’, but I got absolutely zero replies, despite my very polite wording. As a result, and in the hope of getting the matter some desperately-needed publicity, I felt obliged to give the paper the pugnacious title of “State Drivers’ Manuals Can Kill Your Kids!” From this experience, I am extremely well aware that not only are there massive variations in the quality and safety-value of the information in these booklets, from state to state, but also that the advice and recommended techniques from one to another can be mutually contradictory.
The paper — State Drivers’ Manuals Can Kill Your Kids! — is available from the SAE, who charge a modest fee for it. Kindly be aware that they keep the entire fee, I do not make a single cent from it, so these mentions of the paper are posted here solely and specifically to highlight the inadequate and often dangerously bad advice that is still in some states’ official documents. Fortunately and gratifyingly, some states have started using my recommendations in new versions of their manuals since the paper was published.
This move by Michelin (who make excellent tyres, by the way) and the FIA, is a very welcome, unifying influence on just one of the many topics in the various manuals but frankly it is long overdue that best-practice safety advice should be standardized throughout all of the states. In what other aspect of life in the USA would the public and – most importantly – the politicians so blindly tolerate more than 40,000 Americans being unnecessarily slaughtered every year?