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DATE News (chronologically)
10/30/07
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Cooper Tire partners with Champ Car  Cooper Tire & Rubber Company today announced that it will partner with Champ Car to promote the Hands on the Wheel program through its network of tire dealers across North America. Cooper Tire Vice President of Sales and Marketing Phil Caris made the announcement at the 2007 SEMA Show, the biggest automotive specialty products trade event in the world.

“Hands on the Wheel delivers a message of driving safety that is important to all of us at Cooper Tire,” Caris said. “As a presenting sponsor of the Champ Car Atlantic Series, we are excited to work with Champ Car and our network of tire dealers to encourage all drivers to take The Pledge against distracted driving.”

Also during the news conference at the SEMA Show, Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow presented a proclamation from the city declaring October 30, 2007 “Hands on the Wheel Day.” Also on hand to participate in the news conference were Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson, Champ Car World Series driver Alex Tagliani and Champ Car Atlantic Championship driver Frankie Muniz, who previously starred in the “Malcolm In The Middle” television series.

The Hands on the Wheel campaign initially was introduced by Champ Car in August to advocate safe driving practices through an umbrella program that uses Champ Car World Series and Champ Car Atlantic Championship drivers, teams, events, partners and sponsors. The program will educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, with an emphasis on text messaging. Public service announcements featuring Champ Car and Atlantic drivers and partners, including Cooper Tire President and CEO Roy Armes, will help promote Hands on the Wheel. At the heart of the initiative is a pledge against distracted driving, which can be accessed at HandsOnTheWheel.org.

Cooper Tire plans to promote the program by making pledge forms and educational materials about distracted driving available to the public, particularly young drivers, through its dealers. The company also will distribute campaign information during stops for the Cooper Mobile Tour and will include Hands on the Wheel information on the company Web site.

“We believe there is an important need to bring the issue of distracted driving to the forefront, especially to young drivers,” said Johnson. “We think the global reach of our series, our diverse group of drivers and our terrific partners like Cooper Tire will help us reach young drivers with a message of safe driving. I’d like to thank Cooper Tire and its dealers for their ongoing support of our series and this initiative.”

According to a study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, some form of driver inattention was involved in almost 80 percent of car crashes.  In addition, a Zogby International poll in the U.S. found that 66 percent of adults 18 to 24 years old reported sending a text message while driving.

During the news conference at SEMA, Cooper Tire personnel as well as Tagliani and Muniz signed the pledge. In addition, visitors to the Cooper Tire booth (#40341) during the show were invited to sign a Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes painted Champ Car Atlantic Series car as a symbol of their own pledge.
 
“Today, I join my fellow athletes in committing to keep both hands on the wheel while driving,” said Muniz. “As a professional driver, I know the importance of safety and control while driving, whether on the track or on the road. I urge others to visit HandsOnTheWheel.org, or your local Cooper Tire dealer, to make this same pledge.”

“It takes a lot of precision and concentration to handle our race cars and that is what we want people to do everyday while driving their own cars,” added Tagliani. “We just need to raise the level of awareness so when people get into their cars, they remember to keep their Hands on the Wheel. I took the pledge along with the other Champ Car drivers earlier this year and I am taking it again and inviting everyone that has not done so already to do the same.”

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