Safe Tires a First Step on Road To Zero

Innovative technology on a stretch of Georgia highway aims to save lives.

Anna Cullen is the director of external relations for The Ray.

​Blog −​ If our nation is to eliminate preventable deaths everywhere, it will need to eliminate preventable deaths on the roads. We hope this can begin by using creativity and awareness to eliminate deaths on a stretch of highway southwest of Atlanta.

The stretch is called "The Ray." This 18-mile portion of US I-85 is serving as a living laboratory as we try and make it a net-zero highway – zero carbon, zero waste, zero impact and zero deaths. Named in memory of Ray C. Anderson, a global leader in sustainable business, the road is a proving ground to explore the concepts and technologies that will transform the transportation infrastructure.

 The issue of tire under-inflation was low-hanging fruit that was a natural early project along The Ray. Under-inflation is the most common factor in tire failure; one in four cars on U.S. roadways operate with at least one under-inflated tire, and that number changes to one in three for light trucks. Many of Georgia's traffic fatalities are directly attributable to this predictable and fixable problem.

To address the issue and make the roads safer, The Ray is partnering with WheelRight, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia and the Georgia Department of Transportation to give motorists the information and resources to make their vehicles safer. Installed at West Point's visitor information center on The Ray, WheelRight is a convenient rollover tire pressure monitoring system where drivers receive instantaneous results about their tire pressure via a kiosk station. If their tires are underinflated, there is an air compressor available on site and free of charge.

What makes the project one of a kind is the integration of a tread depth monitor system into the tire pressure monitor. This groundbreaking technology was pioneered on The Ray. So in addition to WheelRight telling consumers if their tires are underinflated, it also measures tire tread depth and informs drivers long before their tires start to bald and become unsafe.

More than 762,000 visitors traveling in nearly 244,000 cars and trucks stop at the West Point VIC for travel information and comfort breaks each year, making it a perfect test site for this new innovative technology. Further, the data collected at this and future stations on The Ray will be used to determine future investments in the development of drive-through robotic tire-inflation technologies. In fact, research and prototyping to build a system that can measure tread depth around and across the tire is under way.

​Once we eliminate preventable deaths caused by under-inflated tires, what's next? What else can we do on The Ray and elsewhere on the nation's roads to get us to zero preventable roadway deaths? What if we could make our roads and cars safer for travelers? At The Ray, we believe those goals can be achieved and we are diligently working towards that realization.​

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