As students make their way back to high school and college campuses across the country, it’s important to ensure young drivers are safe on the road. While often overlooked, tires are the only thing connecting a car to the road and are extremely important to road safety. Cooper Tire’s Tread Wisely program, a tire and vehicle safety campaign for teens and young adults, offers three important tire safety tips for young drivers headed back to school.
1. Check your tire pressure
Having the right amount of air in your tires, or tire pressure, helps your tires perform as they should; giving you better control of your car and helping your tires wear longer and more evenly.
To do this, wait until your tires are cool – at least three hours after you last drove your car. Find your car’s ideal tire pressure listed on the sticker inside your car door, glove box or fuel door, or in the car’s manual. This is not on the tire itself. Remove the tire’s valve cap and press a tire gauge firmly onto the valve stem. The end of your tire pressure gauge will pop up and show a reading of the pounds per square inch (PSI) of air pressure in your tires. If this number matches your recommended tire pressure, you’re good to go. If the number is lower than the recommended tire pressure, your tire is underinflated. You need to put more air in and check again until you reach the right number. If the reading on the gauge is higher than the pressure recommended for your car, your tires are overinflated and you need to release some air.
2. Check your tread depth
Tire tread gives your car the traction to stop and hold the road on curves. Tire tread also funnels water out from under your tires, which helps reduce hydroplaning. Your tire tread should be no less than 2/32nds of an inch deep on any part of your tire.
To check your tread depth, use the penny test. Insert the edge of a penny into the most worn groove of your tire tread with Lincoln’s head down and facing you. If the top of Honest Abe’s head is covered by tread, meaning you cannot see the top of his head, you’re tire tread is in good shape. If the top of his head is visible, you need to replace the tire.
3. Assess the overall condition of your tires
Damaged tires are dangerous and can cause tire failure. Damaged tires can also shorten the life of the tire and result in loss of air. Anytime you see damage to your tire, don’t drive on it. Use your spare or call a friend, parent or someone to get you where you need to go.
Before setting off for your first day of school, look at your tires to ensure there are no cuts, cracks, punctures or bulges. If you spot any of these, get your tires checked by a professional before driving on them.
Short videos showing how to perform these three important tire safety checks, which should be completed monthly and before long road trips, can be found on the Tread Wisely mobile app. This first-of-its-kind app is free and available for download from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store (Android).
According to Tread Wisely spokesperson, college sophomore and rookie race car driver Loni Unser, the Tread Wisely app helps ensure monthly tire safety checks aren’t overlooked. “The Tread Wisely app reminds me each month that it’s time to check my tires. With school, friends and racing, it’s easy to forget, but the app sends me a notification so I can be sure my tires are always ready to hit the road. The app is easy to use, and I earn points for each monthly tire safety check I complete, which gives me the chance to win prizes.”
The Tread Wisely tire and vehicle safety program for young drivers was developed in 2016 when Cooper adopted this as a signature philanthropy cause and selected the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS) as a partner in its efforts to educate and motivate young people to take necessary precautions and important safety measures when it comes to their tires and driving. The two organizations have teamed up to share life-saving messages about tire safety through Tread Wisely social media channels, the web, special youth-directed safety events, and on the ground in communities across the United States. Hundreds of Cooper employees have signed up to serve year-round as Tread Wisely volunteers, demonstrating tire safety in schools, at sporting events, churches and other venues, reaching young drivers in the communities where they live and work.