Tires can sometimes be an afterthought. Just before that road trip to the other side of Missouri and back, the vacation planner in the house may add, “check tires” to the to-do list. Otherwise, the rubber meets the road day in and day out, doing its work often unnoticed for miles and miles.

But experts say it is a mistake for that work to go unrecognized. In other words, car owners should pay attention to their tires. The often-quiet work they do could one day save lives, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has statistics to prove it.

Motor Vehicle Accidents and Tire Malfunction

What is so important about tires? For starters, the NHTSA points out that an average of 11,000 tire-related crashes happen in the U.S. every year. In 2016, tire malfunction contributed to 733 traffic fatalities. 

Tire Safety Tips 

What can drivers do to counter these statistics and prevent defective tires from causing an accident for them or a member of their family? AAA says to check vehicle tires regularly. It is a great idea to do so monthly, or more often for those who live in colder climates or drive on a lot of pothole-filled roads. 

Be sure every tire has plenty of tread and the right amount of air. For checking the tread, AAA says there is a simple “quarter test” that can help. “Insert a quarter into a tread groove with the top of Washington’s head facing down. If the top of his head is not visible, [the] tires have at least 4/32″ of tread and are fine for continued use.” If the top of Washington’s head is visible, it is time to go shopping for tires.