By Don Karol
For serious football fans, the two weeks before the Super Bowl are normally a time of building anticipation. They’re a minute-by-minute maelstrom of media analysis and party planning leading up to the game itself, the pinnacle of pigskin, the ne plus ultra of the NFL. It’s the grown-up version of what kids feel on Christmas Eve or the night before their birthdays – for 14 days.
This year the big story is “Deflate-Gate.” Stories like “Why the media are overinflating the football flap” and “Scientists Say the NFL’s ‘Deflate-Gate’ Isn’t All Hot Air“ fill our televisions, monitors, and newspapers.
Every football junkie now knows (and neither knew nor cared to know before January 19) that footballs should be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, and that a crew of officials is charged with inspecting each football before a game to ensure that they are properly inflated.
Planning a party for hardcore fans? Ask them what the NFL found out about the footballs in “Deflate-Gate.” They’ll probably tell you without missing a beat that 11 of 12 balls tested were underinflated by two pounds per square inch.
Then ask them when they last checked the pressure of the tires on their vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers in the United States put more than 2.9 billion miles on their tires annually. And, there are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes that claim nearly 200 lives each year. Many of these crashes can be prevented through proper tire maintenance, which, you guessed it, includes proper tire inflation!
The NTSB takes no position on football inflation issues. Tire maintenance is another matter.
So, like the NFL officials who will be taking extra care to ensure that those Super Bowl footballs are in perfect condition Sunday, always make sure that you regularly inspect your tires for wear and defects and of course, ensure that they are properly inflated!
Don Karol is the Director of NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety