The foundation for future tyre safety lies in new run-flat tyre concepts with onboard low-pressure warning systems, more stringent global tyre standards and testing and a national tyre safety consumer education campaign, according to Goodyear’s top research and development executive.

Joseph Gingo, senior vice president of technology and global products planning, said the tyre industry has several new innovations that will improve the safety and performance of tyres to an unprecedented level, joining the many safety features already built into today’s vehicles.

Speaking at the Society of Plastics Engineers’ global automotive safety conference in Troy, Michigan, on Tuesday, Gingo urged both tyre and automotive engineers to insist that design specifications meet the changing demands of vehicles and their environment and that this technology becomes added security that drivers are willing to pay for.

“We see the next step in safety as tyres with run-flat capability and vehicles with onboard information and warning systems,” Gingo said.

Referring to the intense focus on tyres over the past several months, Gingo noted that in 1999, federal highway statistics show that U.S. motorists traveled 2.4 trillion miles on 822 million tyres. That year, a total of only 645 accidents were categorised as being tyre-related by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Data showed that the leading cause of tyre failure in these accidents was under-inflation, followed by overloading,” he said.

“While every accident is disturbing and must be taken seriously, the numbers show an exceptional safety record for the tyre industry,” Gingo added.

“Tyres are the workhorse for a mobile society. A typical passenger tyre makes more than 720 revolutions per mile and its footprint is the only connection between a vehicle, its cargo and the ground. Tyres are a precise, dynamic, highly engineered product incorporating more than 200 ingredients – no one part of a car is more technologically advanced.

“Over the years, the environment in which tyres perform has become more challenging. External changes, such as increased highway speeds and vehicle size and weight all need to be adjusted for in the products we make. Heavier vehicles plus high speeds equal hotter tyres. Heat is the enemy of tyres,” Gingo said.

“Goodyear welcomes the new mandate by NHTSA to establish new standards and testing and labeling regulations for tyres that meet 21st century needs, as well as a standard for low-pressure tyre monitoring technology to be incorporated in future vehicles.

“We evaluate any unusual patterns for potential problems and have not and will not hesitate to recall any tyre that proves defective,” Gingo said.

Gingo urged a comprehensive nonpartisan approach to tyre safety consumer education involving the tyre and auto industries, government, safety advocates and the media.

“Because no matter how rigorous the testing procedures or how premium the quality, a tyre needs care and maintenance. Despite all of the advances and the latest technology, all tyres can fail if they are run underinflated, overloaded, damaged by road hazards and debris, or sustain a severe impact,” he said.