15 YEARS…..AND COUNTING
Tires under control
Assogomma, recently celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Polizia Stradale (Italian traffic police) during Autopromotec, with a series of initiatives aimed at reminding everyone of the great commitment by both organizations – bound by fourteen years of cooperation – in support of road safety and a growing awareness of the role tires play in the matter.
In the year when the State Police celebrates its 165th Anniversary, the Traffic Department too has an important milestone to celebrate. In 2017, the Traffic Police celebrates its first 70 years of life, 15 of which spent alongside Assogomma in its on-going commitment to road safety. "Ours is a long-standing partnership, committed to updating Traffic Police officers in the use of the tools needed to carry out proper tire checks, as well as in performing specific and now consolidated activities such as "Inverno in Sicurezza” (safe winter) and “Vacanze Sicure” (safe holidays)", says Fabio Bertolotti, Managing Director of Assogomma. This union between the Traffic Police and the Association of Tire Manufacturers, especially in connection to the “Pneumatici sotto controllo” initiative ( ‘Tires under control’ is a brand that, since 2003, has seen Assogomma and Federpneus - National Association of Tire Specialists engaged in activities aimed at raising awareness about the important role tire play in road safety) has greatly contributed over the years to promote a safety culture and identify dangerous areas of noncompliance.
During Autopromotec 2017 (27th International Automotive Equipment and Aftermarket Biennial Trade Show, held in Bologna from May 24 to 28), Assogomma decided to celebrate simultaneously the 70th anniversary of the Traffic Police and its 15 year partnership with the Association. "The Traffic Police has traditionally been with us at Autopromotec as we jointly take this opportunity to illustrate the results of our regular activities", explains the Director of Assogomma. “This year's joint participation at this fair falls within the activities included in the seventieth anniversary celebration calendar”.
Not just celebrations but also much food for thought
The Assogomma stand - which hosted an international line-up of manufacturers and dealers of new and reconstructed products as well as wheels – was the perfect background for a special photographic exhibition entitled "La Polizia che ti aspetti”. The snapshots - some of which previously unreleased - taken by star photographer Massimo Sestini, provided the opportunity for the visitors to view some of the salient stages of the Traffic Police’s history. The “Tyre Arena”, right in the center of Hall 15 and immediately adjacent to the Association’s stand, was the stage where the Traffic Police reproduced virtually and faithfully a number of road accidents, caused by poor tire maintenance.
The shared intents, values and ideals that have, for fifteen years, characterizes the relationship between Assogomma and the ‘Polizia Stradale’ were further deepened in a dedicated conference entitled “Safe Products and Compliance to the Rules: the Challenges of a Global Market. The Automotive Industry and the Institutions illustrate the phenomenon seeking practical and effective answers", organized by Assogomma and Federpneus, and held on May 26, where legal compliance was portrayed as a key element in ensuring road safety. During the meeting, representatives of six different automotive category associations – the already mentioned Assogomma and Federpneus, AIRP (Italian Association of Tyre Retreaders), ANFIA (National Automotive Industry Association), Asconauto (National Association of Car Dealer Consortia) and Assoruote (Italian Wheels Manufacturers Association) - addressed the issue with a special focus on counterfeit products. "This is a serious problem with a twofold impact," says Bertolotti, "the first and most important concerns vehicle and traffic safety. Failure to comply with the law also creates an alarming distortion as far as fair market competition is concerned, and proves detrimental to companies that operate with fairness and professionalism".
Doubts and concerns about the "status quo" were subsequently discussed during a round table which was attended by Roberto Sgalla, Director General of the Traffic and Rail Police, Communications Offices and Special Police Departments, Maria Preiti, Director of the Anti-fraud Unit for the Emilia Romagna / Marche Customs Agency, and Gennaro Vecchione, Captain of the Special Forces of the Guardia di Finanza. A number of irregularities have been reported, many of which are found in Internet transactions, both in terms of non-compliance with technical regulations as well as fiscal policies: "tires purchased on our behalf through well-known B2B portals have highlighted a clear non-conformity on markings and labels, as well as the absence of the expected environmental contributions and alleged failure to pay VAT - explains the director of Assogomma. A situation that is unfortunately growing to pandemic proportions, with adverse effects on road safety damaging honest operators in the process. During the meeting, representatives of the Institutions were asked what solutions could be adopted to solve such a serious problem that, in reality, is not affecting the automotive world or the tire segment alone. "With this event we wanted to send a strong signal to the authorities over a rather serious and wide issue," says Bertolotti. "On the other hand, our long-standing partnership with the Traffic Police is a testimony to how, by working together with the institutions, we can do a lot for everyone’s safety and well-being".
Assogomma's commitment alongside the Police Department has been officially recognized at Autopromotec 2017: "Our partnership has promoted several important awareness campaigns, as well as supporting training and roadside checks - stated Roberto Sgalla, while awarding Fabio Bertolotti a well deserved prize for the 15 years of activities -. The tire, as the only point of contact between the vehicle and the ground, is crucial for road safety. Our recognition of Assogomma’s activity was well deserved, for its role as a privileged representative with the institutions enjoying a special relationship with the Traffic Police as a reference point for the whole tire industry, with 70 years of service in behalf of motorists and road users".
Safe holidays 2017: A focus on tires even during the summer season
On April 20, "Vacanze Sicure" got underway, an initiative under the aegis of the “Pneumatici Sotto Controllo” initiative, now in its 14th edition. As a result of this long-standing partnership between the Ministry of Home Affairs – Traffic Police Department - and “Pneumatici sotto controllo” more than 10,000 road checks will be performed by June 5, 2017, to be added to the approximately 150,000 other checks already performed over the years. The Police will focus mainly on the six regions covered by this year's project: Calabria, Emilia Romagna, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily and Trentino Alto Adige. The data thus collected will then be analyzed following the consolidated model of the Politechnic University of Turin and the results will be presented in mid-July at a press conference.
Once again, "Vacanze Sicure" will turn the spotlights on the importance of circulating with tires in good condition and in full compliance with current regulations.
The campaign has the merit of having contributed over the years to increase the general level of awareness on this specific theme. However, there is still a lot to be done, as the promoters of the initiative say: "More than 52% of motorists drive with underinflated tires," says Fabio Bertolotti, Managing Director of Assogomma, a serious safety issue as braking distances increase and steering is less precise, not to mention damage to the environment and to the wallet as fuel consumption goes up by as much as 15% and tires wear unevenly and therefore need to be replaced sooner". To counter this trend, according to Giuseppe Bisogno, Traffic Police Service Director, a new cultural approach towards legality needs to be promoted: "It is not just a matter of avoiding financial sanctions, more important matters are at stake: safety, both ours and other people’s”.