PVS talks... Tyres

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A UK-wide survey of 340,000 tyres revealed over 10 million vehicles could be driven with an illegal tyre in 2016."Tyresafe.org

If you own or drive a vehicle, you should understand the importance of tyre safety. In recognition of Tyre Safety Month in October, we have decided to write an informative article, detailing some key facts and regulations regarding vehicle tyres.

Legal Requirements

As stated on askthe.police.uk, The law relating to car, van and LCV tyres is as follows:

  1. Tyres must be suitable for the purpose of their use;
  2. Be inflated to be fit for the purpose they are being used for (your manual will have the recommended inflation information for your vehicle);
  3. Have no portion of the ply or cord exposed;
  4. Have no lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of its structure;
  5. Have the base of any groove, which showed the original tread pattern clearly visible (this refers to vehicles requiring only 1mm depth of tread i.e. vehicles with a maximum authorised mass exceeding 3500kgs, trailers exceeding a MAM of 3500kgs and motorcycles;
  6. Have no cut in excess of 25 mm or 10 percent of the section width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, measured in any direction on the outside of the tyre and deep enough to reach the ply or cord;
  7. The grooves of the tread pattern of the tyre have a depth of at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the centre three-quarters of the breadth of the tyre and round the entire outer circumference of the tyre. For the 1mm depth requirement, it does have to be around the entire circumference for three-quarters of the breadth but not necessarily the centre three-quarters.

At 50mph in wet weather, the braking distance of a tyre with only 1.6mm of tread depth is almost 12m longer than that of a new tyre.

The law also states that tyres that are manufactured differently must not be fitted to opposite sides of the same axle. The two main tyre types are radial and cross-ply.

You can mix brands and patterns of the same tyre type, as long as it is suitable for your vehicle and meets with the manufacturer’s advice in your owner’s manual.

Penalties

If found to have dangerous or defective tyres, you can be liable for a fine of up to £2500 and three points on your licence. Bear in mind, this is per tyre! If all of your tyres are illegal, you could be facing a £10,000 fine and 12 points.

To maximise the life of your tyres and enhance your safety on the roads, TyreSafe recommends regular checks of your tyre pressures, tread depth and general tyre condition.

Tyre Pressure

The air pressure in your tyres is one of the most important factors when it comes to determining how well your tyres are doing.

Tyre pressures affect speed capability, wear rate, load carrying capacity and general safety. Under-inflated tyres will use more fuel and release more CO2 emissions.

TyreSafe recommends checking your tyres once a month or before a long journey, when they are cold.

Cars built after 2014 come fitted with a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). These are extremely valuable for alerting the driver if any of the pressures are wrong. Please remember, TPMS must not be used alone, manual checks should still be carried out regularly.

Tyre Labels

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Since 2012, all tyres must be labelled with their specific fuel consumption, wet grip and noise levels. The sidewall markings will tell you all you need to know.

The letters and numbers indicate the width and height (profile) of the tyre wall, the speed rating and what their load index is and the wheel size (diameter).

Left to Bottom; Rolling Resistance, Wet Grip & External Noise. Image Credit: Wikipedia.

    Tyre Checks

    Most company drivers carry a tyre tread gauge in their kit which makes checks easy, reliable and convenient.

    You can also use the 20p method. This test can take 60 seconds and can tell you straight away if there is a problem. Insert the 20p into the tread groove, if you cannot see the outer band of the coin, your tyres are above the legal minimum.

    What to look for:

    • Check the inner 3 tread gauges. Experts recommend your tread depth should be changed if it is lower than 3mm
    • Check for any visible damage to your tyres i.e deep cuts, severe punctures or bulges in tyre wall
    • Tyres degrade due to age, keep in mind the age of your tyres.

    Whatever you’re driving, the condition of your tyres is critical for your safety as they’re the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road." AA

    Spare Tyres

    As of 2016, there is no legal requirement to have a spare tyre, though it is advisable. If you do have one, ensure it is also kept legal in case of emergency use. Some new cars are supplied with space-saving wheels. Please remember, these are only designed for temporary usage and cannot go over 50mph. Many drivers now keep a tyre repair kit in the boot as this saves space and doesn’t require maintenance.

    HGVs

    Current tread depth legislation requires that truck tyres must have a minimum of 1mm of tread in a continuous band throughout the central three-quarters of the tread width and over the whole circumference of the tyre. The same regulation applies to regrooved tyres.

    Fleet managers have a duty of care to their drivers and must ensure they are providing a safe working environment. This means providing safe and roadworthy vehicles.

    In accordance with the Health and Safety Offences Act, UK courts have authority to prosecute businesses for committing offences such as fitting illegal tyres or faulty brakes. The maximum penalty is £20,000.

    Not only is the safety of the fleet’s own drivers put at risk from a tyre failure, but other drivers can also be put at risk by any debris left on the carriageway. Also, fitting a replacement tyre on the hard shoulder of the motorway is an activity fraught with risk and danger. Correct and consistent tyre maintenance can greatly reduce these risks and provide a safer working environment for drivers, fitters and road-users.

    What is your Company Tyre Policy?

    At PVS, we are here to assist companies in becoming leaders in the fleet industry by providing advice, guidance and solutions on all things fleet!

    Contact us today on 01278 550 270 to book in your free telephone consultation and see how we can assist in making your fleet one of the best in the business.

    Marcus Puddy, Managing Director, PVS Ltd

    References