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 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.)

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?

NTSB Safety Compass has not Published my Reply to their “Best Days of Their Lives” Blog, but it’s Important

One week ago, on July 10, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB] published their periodic “Safety Compass” blog.  The post in question was called “Best Days of Their Lives” and is very good, in relation to the safety of young drivers.

Photograph of two roadside memorials, on opposite sides of a rural road, and from two separate crashes.
Not one but two memorials for young people, from two separate crashes on either side of the road at this location in Illinois. Photo: Copyright 2012.

Excerpt: “… [This is] the beginning of the ‘100 Deadliest Days’—the driving season in which crashes involving teens ages 16 to 19 years old increase significantly. Youth drivers are getting behind the wheel with cellphones in hand or drowsy from long, summer nights.

“Our Most Wanted List strives to end alcohol and other drug impairment, distraction, and fatigue‑related accidents, and calls for stronger occupant protection; during the 100 Deadliest Days, young drivers are often faced with many of the challenges included on the Most Wanted List, which makes the collaboration between the NTSB and youth‑serving organizations so vital…”

These are, of course, extremely valid and important points but given how astonishingly far the USA is behind the road safety performance of virtually every other developed nation in the world, I would respectfully suggest that even more needs to be done, so that areas where America is very clearly a long way behind international standards and best practices may be swiftly improved and so that U.S. road deaths — which are currently increasing at an unprecedented and terrible rate — may be turned around and significantly reduced.

This is my reply that, for whatever reason, did not make it through ‘moderation’ and onto the NTSB blog page:

“Very valuable, but in addition it really is high time that all state drivers manuals in the USA were brought fully up to date with global best practices so that young drivers no longer have their heads filled with archaic, inaccurate or even dangerous ‘advice’. It is now over ten years since the paper “State Drivers Manuals Can Kill Your Kids”  was published by the SAE at their 2007 World Congress, in Detroit (and won an ‘excellence’ award from audience feedback) but precious little has changed in that time.”

 

Eddie Wren, CEO & Chief InstructorAdvanced Drivers of North America