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Four out of 10 drivers don't know this dashboard warning could save their lives

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Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:38 am, Wed May 14, 2014.

(BPT) - When it comes to tire pressure safety, many drivers fall flat in connecting this all-important safety concern with the dashboard icon that could alert them to a problem, a new national survey shows. With an estimated 245 million cars and light trucks on U.S. roadways, driver safety concerns are top-of-mind among consumers. In fact, 95 percent of drivers consider vehicle safety features an important issue when shopping for a car. Unfortunately, when it comes to recognition of lifesaving vehicle dashboard icons, many drivers are unaware, uninformed and unprepared.

Four out of 10 drivers are unable to identify the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning symbol located on vehicles’ dashboards and don’t know what the icon is when they see it, according to a new consumer survey conducted on behalf of Schrader International. However, nearly 90 percent of drivers think properly inflated tires and paying attention to an automatic warning system could save their lives.

This demonstrates a drastic disconnect between what drivers consider crucial to their safety and their actual ability to recognize the tire pressure warning symbol. The need for additional education is clear. Fortunately, there are already more than 104 million vehicles in the U.S. now equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, and 91 percent of the entire U.S. vehicle population is expected to be TPMS-equipped by 2023.

So, what does the TPMS alert mean for drivers? The TPMS vehicle dashboard icon is a crucial safety warning symbol that indicates one or more of a vehicle’s tires are significantly underinflated by more than 25 percent. Underinflated tires can impair a car’s ability to maneuver and brake properly. This means a driver whose TPMS light appears is three times more likely to be involved in a crash related to tire problems than a vehicle with proper inflation, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA also reports underinflated tires are estimated to cause: 200,000 accidents, 660 highway fatalities and 33,000 injuries annually, as well as 3.5 million gallons of gasoline wasted daily.

To help raise awareness about TPMS and the importance of proper tire pressure, Schrader, the leading global manufacturer of sensing and valve solutions and pioneer of TPMS, along with OEM car manufacturers, aftermarket retailers, and state and federal governments, are dedicating resources toward consumer education. Schrader has provided the online resource TPMSMadeSimple.com for complete insight into TPMS and the benefits of maintaining proper tire pressure.

If the TPMS icon appears, your tires are sending you a very important message: one or more of your tires are significantly underinflated and you or an auto service technician needs to take a closer look as soon as possible.

When this occurs, exercise caution and do the following:

* Find a safe place to pull off the road to check your tire pressure. Keep a tire gauge with your set of emergency items in your vehicle.

* If the light comes on while driving at highway speed, immediately grab hold of the steering wheel with both hands in case you are experiencing a blow-out (rapid deflation) scenario. Slowly decelerate to a safe speed and find a safe place to pull off the road to check your tire pressure.

* Once checked, if the tires all appear normal, proceed carefully to the nearest gas station or tire service center to add air to your tire(s).

* If needed, have the problem tire or tires and the TPMS system serviced at your nearest tire service center.

The TPMS icon should turn off within several minutes after inflating the tires to their recommended pressure.

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