Road safety partnership RoadSafe has launched a campaign urging firms to change their tyres more frequently, rather than waiting for them to reach the legal limit of 1.6mm.
It claims such a move would reduce the number of accidents on the road and would ensure fleets are acting responsibly for the safety of their drivers.
Fleet NewsNets’ own research found stopping distances in the wet in a car fitted with tyres which had a tread depth of 1.6mm and in another at 3mm varied by more than 10 metres.
The call was cautiously welcomed this week by Tony Leigh, chairman of the Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO), but he added: ‘While the research into tread depth performance in wet conditions is to be welcomed as contributing to the debate on improving road safety, tyres are not the only factor which increases the likelihood of an accident in wet conditions.
‘Drivers need to slow down when road surfaces are wet, particularly after a prolonged period of dry weather.
‘We all know that oil, grease and dust on road surfaces renders them very slippery when newly wet. Too often drivers don’t lower their overall speed, particularly in summer rain conditions.’
Leigh says a further factor is the condition of the road surface itself – with the state of UK roads getting progressively worse despite ‘the Chancellor of the Exchequer continuing to take vast sums of money from the motorist’.
Leigh added cost had to be a factor in determining the change cycle of tyres.
He said: ‘I’m not sure how leasing companies would react if in the middle of a contract a company made the decision to change tyres at 3mm instead of 2mm which many allow at present. New contract costs would soar if 3mm were to become the norm.
‘Slowing down and driving to the conditions costs nothing but would probably save more deaths and injuries than changing tyres earlier.’
RoadSafe chairman Adrian Walsh said: ‘We want a senior director within a company to take responsibility for this issue. I know many fleets do change their tyres at 2mm but if they do it at 3mm then they will reduce the risk to their drivers and other road users considerably.’ (Fleet News, May 19).