Old habits die hard and new ones are exponentially harder to acquire.
People tend to opt for stability in life and according to experts in behavioral studies, it takes a lot for someone to make new choices or exhibit new behaviors. Charles Duhigg noted in his bestselling book The Power of Habit that, for behavioral change to take place or for a routine habit to take hold, one must carefully offer new cues and rewards which could lead to new keystone habits. Back to this in a moment.
According to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), under-inflation of tires is one of the leading causes of accidents and fatalities in the United States every year. Tires filled with regular air tend to lose at least 1 psi of pressure every month. Despite consistent advice to check tire pressure monthly, an overwhelming majority of drivers do not, relying instead on their service provider to take care of it when the vehicle is in for other maintenance, typically every three to six months.
In addition to posing a safety hazard, persistent tire under-inflation can lead to extra wear and tear on the tires, poor stability and car handling, and tire overheating. The latter leads to tire failure or worse, a blowout in the middle of the highway, causing injuries or deaths.
Edmunds.com, a noted authority on all things automotive, published a study about tire under-inflation. The company gave their employees a tire pressure gauge and asked them to check their tire pressure. A key finding was that many of their own employees do not check their tire pressure regularly. The study also found that participants’ tires were under-inflated by 7%. Although well below the NHTSA estimate of 26% under-inflation reported among regular drivers, the Edmunds finding was startling as it showed even so-called car aficionados experiencing a significant loss of tire pressure.
When it comes to maintaining proper tire inflation, the $64,000 question is how to build a habit of checking tire pressure once a month among vehicle drivers despite the overwhelming trend of not doing so.
The government could try to promote the habit of checking tire pressure monthly for the sake of safety and saving lives. But it would take a battalion of behavioral experts and an inordinate amount of money to achieve meaningful change.
And perhaps it does not have to be that complicated. Why attempt the Sisyphean task of changing motorists’ vehicle maintenance habits when a simpler solution is available: simply use nitrogen instead of regular air to fill tires.
Regular air tends to escape from tires over time and so does nitrogen, but at a much slower rate. Compared to inflation with air, nitrogen inertion provides more stable inflation pressure, significantly reducing the likelihood of tire overheating and potentially fatal blowouts.
A single life lost due to under-inflation and tire failure is one too many. Nitrogen inertion can provide an added margin of safety and the peace of mind that goes with it.