John Catling, chief executive at Wheelwright, looks at the challenges of tyre pressure checking.
Poorly-maintained tyres are the fleet industry’s dirty hidden secret. In a recent poll of Fleet News readers, a staggering 29.4% did not know how often their drivers checked their tyre pressures.
More worryingly, 17.6% said it was just once a year and 26.5% thought quarterly. At the other end of the spectrum, just 8.8% believe drivers check tyre pressures weekly and 17.6% selected monthly.
The tyre industry advises a monthly check, with tyres losing pressure at a rate of about 0.69 bar (one psi) per month. Unsurprisingly, there is a limited desire to undertake what is seen as a messy and unnecessary chore.
So, how do we get tyre pressures back on the agenda? The European Union mandates all new vehicles to be manufactured with tyre pressure monitoring systems from November 2014. But just because the technology is in place doesn’t mean that drivers will pay attention or fleet managers will see the information.
Figures from the Highways Agency suggest that more than 15,000 breakdowns on English motorways each year are tyre related; a significant cost to any business.
In addition, incorrect tyre pressure can compromise cornering, braking, vehicle stability and, in the worst-case scenario, lead to serious accidents. This should be a convincing argument for any fleet manager looking at their duty-of-care responsibilities.
Correctly-inflated tyres can have a significant impact on fuel consumption and emissions.
The biggest challenge is getting the driver to buy-in to the need to conduct regular checks. This is where innovative drive-over systems which measure pressure, weight and temperature in motion can really come into their own.
Removing the need for manual checks, the information can be analysed and sent immediately to the driver’s mobile phone, as well being copied to the fleet manager.
Tyres may not always be seen as the most important aspect of a fleet manager or company driver’s day; but there is a compelling argument to put them back at the top of the agenda.