By John Stone
In spite of the continuous rise in tyre-related casualties, drivers are not serious enough to regularly check the condition of their vehicle tyres even at the moment.
At the time of writing this article, Europe and the UK are in the tight grip of winter with extremely cold temperatures and snow in some areas. In these dangerous driving months, drivers have to check the condition of their tyres on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, that is not the case — a disturbing fact that is backed by ongoing surveys and reports by various tyre safety organizations. At the same time, the problem of a sheer complacent attitude towards tyres by a lot of motorists is so serious an issue across Europe that even tyre manufacturers are also carrying out their own independent checks.
For example, I became aware recently from such a random UK study that 20% of the drivers are only checking their tyre pressures and overall condition of their tyres every six month. This is despite the continual marketing campaigns urging that a check should be carried out on a weekly basis.
The survey, which also looked at drivers’ awareness about tyre safety, has come out with the alarming statistic that 10% of the drivers never actually checked their tyre pressures or tyre tread depth and almost 50% were totally unaware of the legal limit for tyre tread on a passenger car.
Another interesting fact was that a massive 70% of the drivers, when questioned, admitted that they never even thought about changing a tyre until there was a problem or until they were advised to replace the tyre by a garage or tyre depot. In fact, around 65% of the drivers actually confirmed that they did not know how to change a tyre on their vehicle on an emergency. Also, 20% of the drivers did not even carry a spare tyre in their vehicle even though it’s a proven fact that around 25% of the drivers had experienced breaking down as a result of tyre-related problems.
The study, which also looked into how drivers performed in winter road conditions, discovered that 75% of the drivers were not very confident when travelling on icy and snowbound road surfaces in poor visibility. Less than 10% of them were totally unaware of the correct breaking distances in such dangerous driving conditions. This ignorance also puts other road users as well as themselves by under-estimating safety distances.
I know the problem of drivers not caring for or looking after the condition of their tyres is an age-old problem; but what is really alarming is the fact that it just never seems to get any better despite the excellent work carried out by tyre safety organizations throughout Europe.
The situation becomes even more serious (if that is possible) when you consider that the number of reported casualties directly resulting from tyre-related incidents in the UK over the past five years is 5,677 which has claimed the lives or seriously injured almost 1,000 people. In fact, where casualties arise from an accident involving a vehicle defect, tyres are the single largest contributory factor over the last five years accounting for 36% of the 2.2 million cars in the UK that annually fail the MOT test dues to tyre-related defects.
Taking all the facts into consideration, it is a very worrying and dangerous situation that shows no significant signs of improvement even at the moment or in the near future. Meanwhile, people will continue to die or suffer serious and, in some cases, life-changing injuries just because they did not take the condition of their vehicle’s tyres seriously enough.