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One third of drivers can't recognize this idiot light

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One third of drivers can't recognize this idiot light

08:53 AM

What if you made a product that shows up on every new car, a product that can save lives, but a third of motorists can't use the product because they have no idea what it is?

CAPTIONBy Schrader

Such is the quandary faced by Schrader, a company that makes tire pressure monitoring systems, or TPMS for short. For the one out of three drivers that is, it's the idiot light on your dashboard that looks like a little U with tire treads on the bottom. Oh. That.

The TPMS icon illuminates when tire pressure in one or more of the vehicle's tires is 25% below the manufacturer's recommended amount. It became required by law in 2008, the direct result of the Ford Explorer debacle a decade ago in which rollover accidents were blamed on underinflated Firestone tires. An outgrowth of the scandal was the finding that many people never check their tire pressure, putting their lives -- not to mention their gas mileage -- on the line because of underinflation. Requiring a new idiot light seemed like an ideal solution.

Schrader says it conducted a survey at the start of the year that showed 46% of drivers couldn't figure out that the little tire-tread icon was supposed to look like little tire treads. Whether they recognized the icon or not, a third didn't know what the tire-pressure monitoring system is.

Another 14% thought the light was warning them that something else was going wrong in their car -- but not tire pressure.

Yet the survey found almost all, 96%, of drivers agree that driving with underinflated tires is a serious safety issue, although only 44% said they rarely check their tire pressure.

Armed with its scary survey results, Schrader created a web site:

The site is TPMSMadeSimple.com, to try to tell drivers about inflating their tires. comprehensive site that helps drivers understand the purpose and benefits of TPMS, as well as what steps to take when the TPMS alert illuminates. The site also explains the many economic and environmental benefits of proper tire pressure.

"Drivers can sometimes take it for granted that their vehicle's four tires are what keep them connected to the road," says Carl Wacker, a vice president for Schrader. "Just like seatbelts and airbags, TPMS helps protect drivers when their safety is most at risk."

link:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/08/one-third-of-drivers-dont-know-what-this-icon-means/1

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Thing is, unless there is suddenly a gash in the tire, slightly low tire pressure isn't THAT serious a situation, so it wouldn't matter too much that the driver doesn't know what the light means, as they would have time to look into it. The PROBLEM is the crazy high number of drivers that completely ignore their idiot lights.

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Do drivers ever bother to read the owners' manual and familiarize themselves w/ what each idiot light means? Fools.

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Well it's a pretty dumb looking icon.

tpms.jpg

Out of soup?

I get what it's supposed to be, but it is not easily recognizable. The icon should show the normal view of a tire (round, how you see them on vehicles), with an exclamation mark in the middle. That way people see round, they equate it to wheels or tires, and they know as least there is something wrong with their wheels or tires.

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Well it's a pretty dumb looking icon.

tpms.jpg

Out of soup?

I get what it's supposed to be, but it is not easily recognizable. The icon should show the normal view of a tire (round, how you see them on vehicles), with an exclamation mark in the middle. That way people see round, they equate it to wheels or tires, and they know as least there is something wrong with their wheels or tires.

It's clearly the cross section of a tire, w/ the tread on the bottom. Again, drivers have the responsibility to read their owner's manual to familiarize themselves with the car's lights and instrumentation.

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Thing is, unless there is suddenly a gash in the tire, slightly low tire pressure isn't THAT serious a situation, so it wouldn't matter too much that the driver doesn't know what the light means, as they would have time to look into it. The PROBLEM is the crazy high number of drivers that completely ignore their idiot lights.

If there is a sudden gash in your tire, this light would be useless. You would already know something is wrong. The light comes on when a tire is 25% under inflated. That does allow you some flexability, kinda like your low fuel light does.

Edited by wskikevin

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I agree with DF and siegen. Even though I know cars and know what the light means, the light still doesn't strike me as intuitive.

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I agree that the driver should read the manual.

However:

I still find it a bit annoying that all of these indicators cannot have any words whatsoever anymore.

I know that they are trying to accommodate to non-English speakers by using symbols but 'LOW TIRE' or 'CHANGE OIL SOON' (whose symbol version has confused some people with the oil pressure light, I had a couple calls about that one when I was in the business) seems simple enough for most to get the gist of.

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I agree that the driver should read the manual.

However:

I still find it a bit annoying that all of these indicators cannot have any words whatsoever anymore.

I know that they are trying to accommodate to non-English speakers by using symbols but 'LOW TIRE' or 'CHANGE OIL SOON' (whose symbol version has confused some people with the oil pressure light, I had a couple calls about that one when I was in the business) seems simple enough for most to get the gist of.

They can... almost to a detriment. I was making a hard right turn in my Passat when suddenly my dash screamed to me in caps "STOP! BRAKE FAILURE!" with a corresponding obnoxious beep and a flashing ABS and parking brake light. Turns out I was low on brake fluid...

As for language, I'm sure it's reconfigurable in whatever language you want it to be.

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Well it's a pretty dumb looking icon.

tpms.jpg

Out of soup?

I get what it's supposed to be, but it is not easily recognizable. The icon should show the normal view of a tire (round, how you see them on vehicles), with an exclamation mark in the middle. That way people see round, they equate it to wheels or tires, and they know as least there is something wrong with their wheels or tires.

I agree, I had no idea what that meant at first glance.

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