A campaign launched this week by the federal government reminds drivers that seat belts and airbags aren't the only parts of your vehicle that can keep you safe. Tires play a crucial role as well. After all, they connect your vehicle to the road.

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According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which began its TireWise effort on Tuesday, an estimated 11,000 tire-related crashes occur each year, resulting in nearly 200 fatalities.

"This campaign will help consumers make more informed choices every step of the way when it comes to choosing and caring for their tires -- keeping them safer and saving them money at the same time," NHTSA stated in a press release.

The campaign reaches out to retailers and manufacturers across the country, providing advice and information on topics from treadwear to buying tires.

Henry Jasny, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said drivers don't realize that it's a "knife's edge" of a difference between someone sliding off the road on a rainy night, and a smooth ride.

"The amount of tread that's on a tire, which is usually the depth of half a penny, is a real important part of vehicle safety, and it's sorely overlooked," Jasny said.

Jasny said it's important for motorists to understand that tires can age over time, even sitting on the shelf, and not just through miles traveled.