New research has suggested almost three-quarters of motorway incidents related to tyre failure could have been prevented by simple checks.
More than 30 people were killed or seriously injured in motorway accidents in 2016 due to illegal or faulty tyres.
But an 18-month study by Highways England and tyre manufacturer Bridgestone highlighted that commuters, commercial drivers and other road users can do a lot more to help reduce accidents through regular checking.
The study, analysing 1,035 pieces of tyre debris from five motorways, discovered almost three quarters of failed tyres featured defects that could have been spotted with more frequent tyre inspections.
Highways England and Bridgestone looked at tyre debris from cars, motorbikes, vans and trucks found on the M1, M6, M40, M5 and M42 motorways.
56 per cent of tyres failed because or road debris, while a further 18 per cent failed due to poor inflation – problems which could be potentially avoided with better tyre husbandry.
A further eight per cent failed due to poor vehicle maintenance, while manufacturing defects and excessive heat each accounted for one per cent.
The other 16 per cent couldn’t be specified to one particular problem.
In addition, the cost to the economy from a two-hour delay on a busy stretch of motorway following a two-lane closure stands at £135,360 and a massive £1,488,960 for a three-lane closure lasting up to four hours.
Richard Leonard, Highways England’s head of road safety, said: “England’s motorways are the safest in the world but we’re determined to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on them.
“This important research confirms our view that road users must play a bigger role and get into the habit of checking tyre pressures and tread depths and looking out for nails and other debris stuck in tyres before setting out on journeys. These simple checks could save lives.”
Both Bridgestone and Highways England are partners in the multi-agency road safety charity Tyresafe, and worked together to carry out the research over 18 months between the beginning of 2016 and last summer.
Bridgestone technical manager Gary Powell, who oversaw the analysis of the debris with field engineer Peter Moulding and the rest of the firm’s technical department, said: “This report has taken a great deal of time and effort, involving a painstaking process of collecting tyre debris over 18 months and analysing it in depth thereafter.
“In conclusion, some simple tyre checks can save lives, not to mention reduce the risk of a stressful breakdown on a motorway.
“With proper vehicle inspection and maintenance programs, many of the failure methods noted should be detectable and preventable. In light of these results, we would also advise that tyre pressure monitoring systems are fitted to vehicles which don’t benefit from this technology already.”
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