Michelin and the FIA Get All 50 States to Standardize Tire Safety Advice in State Drivers’ Manuals, which is No Easy Task

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 2oo7.  (For the sake of perspective, I will add that to my 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.)

Photo of a Michelin tire
A Michelin Energy MXV4 S8 tire with very shallow tread depth (photo taken in a parking lot).  The image also clearly shows the manufacturing date of this tire:  The 0710 visible bottom left is the standard U.S. display of year (07) and week (10) that this particular batch of tires was made, and this is important to know so that you never unwittingly buy tires that are already too old.

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?

Washington State ‘Memorial Sign Program’ now Covers Many Causes of Road Deaths

Excerpt

The roadside Don’t Drink and Drive Memorial Sign Program… has been expanded to include other types of traffic fatalities, said Nancy McClenny-Walters with the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health and coordinator of the… County Traffic Safety Task Force.

Sample of the Washington State Memorial Signs (courtesy image)

The Task Force [has] expanded its program to include new signs that read “Please Drive Safely,” “Please Don’t Speed,” “Please Watch for Motorcycles,” “Please Watch for Bicyclists,” “Please Watch for Pedestrians” and “Seat Belts Save Lives.”

“The memorial sign program began in 1994 as a public awareness campaign to educate and make people aware of how many people were being killed in drunken driving collisions in our state. The first signs in the state were placed along Highway 12…

Read the full article, from the Union Bulletin

Commentary

It is an essential part of highway safety that the driving public are continually reminded of need for awareness and alertness on roads.

In my own opinion — for this is a subject on which I have no specific research — these signs in Washington are a good idea.

A ‘breakaway’ or slip-base for road signs, built by Traffic Safety Products, a division of Eberl Iron Works, Inc.

As with all signs, they clearly do need to be located away from any likely trajectories of vehicles that are out of control, therefore, for example, not near or beyond the outer apex of any curve.  In addition, it is important nowadays for all road signs to be on breakaway mountings so that if they are struck by a vehicle the pole snaps off at its base, thus minimizing damage to the vehicle or injury to its occupants.

A challenging intersection with not only a difficult view to the right but also a short one. I found this location that last time I was instructing in Washington State, myself, and at ADoNA we deliberately incorporate challenging features when possible, to enrich our trainees’ experience. Copyright image.

Washington State, however, has a very good reputation in road safety so I’m confident they’ll have had such details sorted out for many years. 🙂

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America

An Award-Winning but Heart-Rending Road Safety Film by the Thames Valley Police, UK

When drivers use cell phones or other electronic gadgets for any task, the risk of them getting involved in a fatal road crash increases by a factor of between 4 and 26 times, yet still people pretend to themselves that they are somehow special and that they can do it without crashing.  Here is one such individual and what he did (an award-winning UK video):

You may also read the article, from Thames Valley Police, about this incident and the award they have received for this factual video.