Firestone, Mario Andretti launch driver safety education campaign

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Firestone and legendary racer Mario Andretti are teaming up in order to save lives with a new driver safety education campaign.

The program includes a series of television and print ads in which Andretti stresses the importance of proper tire inflation and maintenance, and urges drivers to check their tires every month. The program also includes a curriculum that encourages young drivers to learn their “M.A.R.I.O.S.” (Mario Andretti’s Real Information On Safety), which includes taking care of your tires, wearing your seat belt, driving alert and defensively, and never drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

“I’m proud of Firestone for having this commitment to safety and stepping up to provide drivers with life-saving safety information. I’m honored that they asked me to serve as spokesman for this important campaign,” said Andretti. “After more than 40 years in racing, I know we all have a responsibility to make sure our tires are in good condition and are properly inflated. We also have to be alert-not distracted or impaired behind the wheel-and we must always buckle up.”

Firestone has committed to spend more than $15 million on the campaign over the next three years. In addition to the ads and the safety curriculum, the program includes a complete revision and re-launch of the company’s public service Web site, www.tiresafety.com, which sends motorists monthly e-mail reminders to check their tires and includes a wealth of practical safety information.

Andretti also will be visiting schools across the country to talk to students about safety and to urge them to learn their “M.A.R.I.O.S.”

“Teens are just learning to drive and face many distractions, so they are at a very high risk for accidents,” said Andretti. “We can help educate teens on basic driving safety and help them start to develop healthy driving habits, like checking their tire pressure monthly.”

The “M.A.R.I.O.S.” curriculum (available online at www.tiresafety.com under the “Driving Tips” tab) includes information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Web site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov, which urges drivers to know their PSI (proper tire inflation pressure in pounds per square inch). The curriculum also includes information from Driver’s Edge, a nationally recognized teen driver safety program sponsored by Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) www.driversedge.com.

“We’ve put a great deal of thought into this program to include the best and most useful safety information and to try to reach as many drivers as possible through our outreach and advertising efforts,” said John Gamauf, president of Consumer Replacement Tire for BFNT. “Safety is something we are passionate about. With Mario’s help, we’re going to work very hard to educate drivers of all ages and equip all motorists with the information they need to stay safe on the roads.”

Firestone worked with Laughlin/Constable Inc. to devise the advertising campaign. Laughlin/Constable has offices in Chicago and Milwaukee and specializes in marketing consumer products and services. Its annual billings are in excess of $165 million. The agency’s clients include Saks Inc., Harley-Davidson/Buell Motorcycles, Bridgestone Firestone, Sunstar and Friendly Ice Cream Corporation.

About Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC:
Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) is a subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc., whose parent company, Bridgestone Corporation, is the world’s largest tire and rubber company. BFNT develops, manufactures and markets Bridgestone, Firestone and associate and private brand tires. The company is focused on wholesale and original equipment markets, supplying passenger, light truck, commercial vehicle, off-road, motorcycle, agricultural and other tires to its customers in North America.

About Driver’s Edge:
Las Vegas-based Driver’s Edge is a Nevada 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Originally created by former professional racecar driver Jeff Payne, Driver’s Edge is, quite simply, a no-cost educational program for young drivers (ages 15-21) that teaches real-life emergency avoidance and response techniques and overall driver safety. This innovative program is taught on an ongoing basis in Las Vegas, Nev., with annual national tours visiting multiple U.S. cities each year. The program is funded entirely by corporate sponsorship, public grants and charitable donations.