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Low tyre pressures put millions of drivers at risk

One in four drivers could be posing a serious risk to themselves and others by heading out on potentially underinflated tyres, new research from AA Tyres suggests.

The study found an estimated 8.1 million UK drivers haven’t checked their tyre pressures in the last two months – meaning that a large proportion could be driving around on tyres that give them a poor ride and bad fuel economy.

Of that group, over two million drivers (7%) haven’t assessed their tyre pressures in the last six months or ever, which means they potentially pose a significant danger to themselves and other road users.

An AA-Populus poll canvassed 20,033 AA members on when they last checked certain parts of their main vehicle. The research found that a much higher proportion of drivers had checked their screenwash levels (56%), windscreen (50%), condition of their bodywork (47%) and lights (43%) than the condition of their tyres - pressures (40%) and tread (36%) - in the last two weeks.

The worst culprits for failing to check tyre pressures were women and Londoners, with more than a third (35%) in both groups not making an assessment in the last two months.

The following regional breakdown shows, in ascending order, the worst offenders when it comes to checking their tyre pressures:

 

More than two months ago or never

London

35%

Northern Ireland

32%

South East

29%

Eastern

27%

North West

25%

Source: AA Populus online poll

In 2015, almost a third (32.6%) of accidents in the UK in which vehicle defects were a contributory factor were due to under inflated, defective or illegal tyres – including 112 serious accidents and 14 fatalities.

Mark Shankland, managing director of AA Tyres, said: “It doesn’t take much misuse of brand new tyres to go from safe to dangerous. Checking tyre pressures is the bread and butter of car management, so it’s surprising that over a quarter of UK drivers have failed to do this recently.

“Sadly the accident figures bear out just how important it is to keep tyres correctly inflated – and just how quickly failing to do so can result in tragedy. On average, even if they are correctly fitted and undamaged, tyres can lose up to two pounds per square inch (PSI) every month – add in the potential of minor damage going unnoticed and you could be running on dangerously low levels before you know it.

“Failure to make these checks even after a couple of weeks can have significant knock-on effect to your fuel economy and the comfort of your drive – and not least your safety.

“It’s important to check your tyres every couple of weeks. Before you do, make sure they’re ‘cold’ and haven’t been driven in the last couple of hours. The pressure inside your tyre naturally increases as they heat up, so making an assessment while they are warm could give a false reading. Also use this opportunity to check tread levels and signs of wear, cuts or bulges in the sidewall – which could be a sign that the tyre has sustained internal damage.”

 



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Comments

  • J M - 15/03/2017 11:36

    You have a serious (though not as life threatening as low tyre pressures) typo in the middle of this column, just above where the table starts: "When did you last change the tyre on your main vehicle?" Surely this question should be 'When did you last check your tyre pressures ?'

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  • KennyR - 23/03/2017 08:58

    Getting drivers to regularly check tyre pressures can prove very difficult for most fleets. I know many drivers who never check their tyre pressures which, as this article highlights, is very dangerous, let alone detrimental to the ride and fuel efficiency of your car. Line managers and fleet professionals should continue to bang the drum for regular checks and perhaps use the potential of savings at the pump as a lever to change behaviour. As Shankland says checking tyre pressures is the bread and butter of car management.

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