Michelin promotes tire care as rival Goodyear faces safety investigation

Brakes may stop your wheels, but tires stop your car.

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Michelin, one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, is teaming up with shoe manufacturer Vans to promote that message to prevent tire-related deaths among young Americans.

Of the 2.2 million car accidents in the U.S. each year, 300,000 involve teen drivers in cars with tire problems, according to Michelin. Meanwhile, 40% of teens are driving with improper tire pressure and 42% with unsafe tire tread.

“The No. 1 killer of teens remains traffic accidents, and with today’s technology in vehicles, we think that’s tragic,” Scott Clark, chairman and president of Michelin’s North America, said during an interview with FOX Business. “There’s something we can do about it, and that’s why we’ve launched this program with Vans.”

Road crashes cost the U.S. more than $230 billion per year, or an average of $820 per person, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel.

In order to raise awareness and prevent injuries or deaths, Vans designed limited-edition, Michelin-inspired Classic Sk8-Hi and Old Skool sneakers that will be given away to 100 teens who enter what is known as the “Street Tread Contest.” Participants are asked to submit photos of themselves on social media checking their tire pressure and tread depth.

“I think teenagers know when your tennis shoes are worn down,” Clark said. “They’re slippery, they’re dangerous. The same holds true for your tires. So with that idea, we went to Vans, and they jumped on the opportunity to work with Michelin.”

For the next 100 days, applicants can use the hashtag #StreetTreadContest to enter.

Michelin’s safety campaign comes as rival Goodyear Tires is being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over claims its tires could be linked to 95 injuries and deaths. Goodyear faces allegations that for 20 years it covered up consumers’ use of about 40,000 defective tires that were not safe for highway speeds on recreational vehicles. The company has denied any wrongdoing and has not recalled any products.

When asked about the Goodyear allegations, Clark reiterated Michelin’s longstanding commitment to, and reputation for, quality and safety.