A groundbreaking research study has revealed the serious, and sometimes tragic, consequences of poor tyre care. We take a look at its findings.
Just a few weeks ago, we wrote a post on the costs of underinflated tyres. We argued that although moderate underinflation wouldn’t cost you that much fuel, it drastically increased the chances of tyre failure. We’ve also recently discussed the role of tyre pressure in aquaplaning.
Now an important study has highlighted the effects of neglecting your tyres, including not maintaining the correct tyre pressure.
The research was carried out over an 18-month period by tyre manufacturer Bridgestone and Highways England. Beginning at the start of 2016, Highways England staff gathered 1,o35 tyre fragments from the M1, M6, M40, M5 and M42. These were then passed onto Bridgestone’s technical engineering team for analysis.
Looking at the causes of tyre failures, Bridgestone’s experts found that:
- 56% were due to debris penetration
- 18% were due to incorrect inflation
- 8% were due to poor vehicle maintenance
- 1% were due to manufacturing defects
- 1% were due to overheating
- 16% could not be classified.
‘Poor vehicle maintenance’ included incorrect alignment and ineffective repairs. Taken together with inflation issues, it suggests that over a quarter (26%) of tyre failures were preventable with greater vehicle care. In our view, this doesn’t need to be onerous. A quick visual check can identify tyres that are in poor condition. Your vehicle may give you additional warning signs as well.
Even some of the debris-related failures were preventable through greater tyre awareness. In a proportion of cases, the researchers found that debris had penetrated the tyre well before its eventual failure. Debris, such as a nail or bolt, had pierced the tyre and then partially plugged the hole. This would have led to a slow deflation, which should have been easily identifiable through routine monitoring.
Tyre failures carry a substantial economic price. Government figures suggest that closing a two-lane motorway for two hours costs the nation’s economy £135,360. When a three-lane motorway is shut for four hours, that rockets up to £1,488,960.
However, it’s the human cost that’s appalling. Statistics from Highways England show that, in 2016, 32 people were killed or seriously injured as a result of illegal, defective or underinflated tyres.
The Bridgestone and Highways England is an amazing bit of collaboration. It gives us some hard data about exactly why tyres fail. The message is pretty clear: whilst we can’t totally eliminate the risk of tyre failure, we can radically change the odds in our favour. All it takes are changing some habits.