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Tires Are the Keys to Baby Safety

Parents take extreme care to safeguard their children, but new research commissioned by Michelin North America, Inc. (Michelin) indicates they are missing a critical safety gap when it comes to the family vehicle.

The study found that while the overwhelming majority of car-owning American parents say their children’s safety is important to them, only about a third (37 percent) claim to have checked their tires to ensure they are safe. Fewer than one in five (18 percent) have installed new tires to improve their kids’ overall safety.[1]

This gap in tire-safety action is even more alarming considering the important role tires play in stopping the vehicle. In fact, Michelin estimates that a set of tires may enable as many as 90,000 stops[2], both unexpected and intentional, during the course of its lifecycle.

To help address the issue, Michelin and Graco Children’s Products, Inc. have joined together to raise awareness of what parents can do to improve the safety of their vehicles — inside and out.

“We know parents go to great lengths to keep their children safe, but families on the go may not stop and think about what they may have overlooked — specifically, the safety of their tires,” said Yahn Heurlin, vice president of marketing, Michelin North America. “We all spend significant time in our vehicles and need them to stop safely, whether planned or at a moment’s notice. And your tires play a key role in that moment of need.”

The research also found:

  • American children under 5 years old spend an average of 6.5 hours in the car every week, but fewer than half (45 percent) of parents have baby- or child-proofed their cars.[1]
  • More than half of Americans (53 percent) believe that, to keep a child safe in the car, all that really matters is a good car seat.[1]
  • Nearly one in four American parents (23 percent) do not check their tires before taking their young children on long car trips.[1]

As part of the effort, Michelin and Graco have teamed up to create educational content and experiences — both online and in real life — to help families understand the roles that both tires and car seats play in family travel safety. Families can see how easy it is to know what to look for when shopping for a new car seat or new tires.

In addition, the two companies are creating 100,000 “Welcome Baby Kits,” that will be distributed to expecting and new parents through partners such as The Baby Box Co., Fatherly and The Bump. The kit includes important tools such as a tire-pressure gauge, a Michelin Man penny for tread-depth tests, as well as a Michelin Man plush doll, additional product information and coupon offers from Michelin and Graco.

In the automotive industry, braking performance — especially wet braking —is recognized as one of the best indicators of safety. Additionally, the majority of weather-related[3] crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall: 70 percent on wet pavement and 46 percent during rainfall.[4]

“We know that parents research and select the products they buy based on safety performance ratings and reviews,” Heurlin said. “However, worn-tire performance information is limited. The fact is, our lives happen on worn tires, but we still need to rely on them to stop safely over time. When you are driving with precious cargo — every stop counts.”

Braking performances among new tires are not equal, and Michelin internal tests — as well as tests by independent experts — show that worn tires can be even more unequal in their braking performance and stopping distance (including the speed at which one car is traveling where another vehicle has stopped). In recent testing, after the vehicle equipped with MICHELIN® tires[5] — specifically the MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tire — had stopped, another vehicle equipped with competitor tires was still traveling at 15 mph.

Michelin believes that consumers, including parents, should have access to data regarding how different tires perform over time so they can make purchase decisions for their families.

For more information and resources, including details Michelin and on third-party independent testing, please visit michelinman.com/longlastingperformance