Although checking the tyres on all of their cars would be an impossible task for fleet managers, giving the responsibility to drivers could ensure company vehicles comply with the law.
Leasing company Zenith Vehicle Contracts, which has a fleet of 15,000 vehicles, highlighted the problem of illegal tyres at an interactive workshop on employers’ duty of care it hosted in Manchester.
Sales and marketing director Philip Jerome said: ‘Employees driving on company business are considered to be undertaking work, so their vehicles are treated as a place of work, regardless of who owns the vehicle.
‘We know, for example, that 48% of all tyres changed on our fleet vehicles in 2004 were at, or below, the legal limit. It would be extremely onerous for a company to have to inspect the tyres of all its fleet, so businesses have to tackle this issue by training their drivers to conduct checks, which is a legal requirement.
‘They should also introduce some kind of fallback process, such as random checks by a tyre company or fleet manager.’
Earlier this year, road safety campaigners called on fleets to change their tyres more frequently, rather than waiting for them to reach the legal limit of 1.6mm. Road safety partnership RoadSafe launched a campaign saying such a move would ensure fleets were acting responsibly for the safety of their drivers.
RoadSafe chairman Adrian Walsh said: ‘We want a senior director within a company to take responsibility for this issue.’