Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

SEATTLE - April 29, 2002 - In the wake of its settlement with tire giant Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., the Washington Attorney General's office today announced a new initiative to educate the public about tire safety.


Audio message for Attorney General Christine O. Gregoire.

"tires0402.mp3" (MP3 195K)


In cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Attorney General's office will distribute as many as 10,000 NHTSA- produced tire safety brochures through its Consumer Resource Centers and through 65 Department of Licensing drivers' license offices statewide.

Distribution of the brochures is the first phase of a tire-safety education effort funded in part with money from last November's $51.5 million settlement between the nation's attorneys general and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., the manufacturer of tires linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries nationwide.

Part of Washington's $583,000 share of that settlement will be used to supplement a $5 million national  tire-safety media campaign throughout the summer months. The state and national campaigns will stress the importance of regularly checking tire wear and inflation pressure, regularly rotating tires to ensure even wear, and reminding motorists of the relationship of safety to load, speed and tire pressure.

"Safe driving depends not just on quality tires, but on how they are used," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "With lives literally riding on a set of tires, motorists can't afford to be careless about basic maintenance and safe use."

According to an industry survey, most drivers know proper tire maintenance is important to highway safety, yet many don't know enough about tire care to maintain them properly, Gregoire said.

The survey found that almost half of drivers who were asked said they don't check their tire pressure as often as they should. The survey also found that 66 percent of drivers don't know where to find the proper tire inflation pressure, and almost half of drivers aren't rotating their tires on a regular basis.

Data released by NHTSA last year found that 27 percent of passenger cars and 33 percent of light trucks/SUVs have at least one significantly underinflated tire. NHTSA also found that nine percent of vehicles have at least one bald tire.

Among other things, the brochure provides these tips:

Check Tire Pressure at least once per month and before every long trip -- including the spare and keep it at the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
Be mindful of Vehicle Loading and Overloading. Before you fill the trunk and the roof rack, check out the recommendations for loading. Overloading your vehicle creates excessive heat inside your tires. Excessive heat can cause tire failure that could result in vehicle damage and/or serious injury or even death.
Check the Tire Tread. Place a penny in the tread with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, you are ready for new tires. Also check the sidewalls to make sure there are no gouges, cuts, bulges or other irregularities.
Copies of the brochure may be obtained by calling the Attorney General's consumer line at 1-800-551-4636. It can also be found on the NHTSA website: http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/rules/tiresafety/ridesonit/brochure.html