By Denna Bowman
A worrying 63% of motorists drive on under-inflated tyres and almost 20% have at least one tyre worn down below the EU legal minimum tread depth, according to research by Bridgestone.
Concern that motorists are not paying proper care and attention to their tyres is heightened during the summer time, as millions of families in Europe set off in heavily-loaded cars for their longest journey of the year.
Bridgestone has released the shocking statistics based on tyres safety checks it conducted on 46,000 vehicles in 11 EU countries during 2011.
Gert Meylemans, Senior Manager, European Communications Office, Bridgestone Europe, warned: “Tyre care is vital for safety, greener motoring and economy. As the summer holiday period approaches, Bridgestone again warns drivers to check their tyre condition and inflation pressure before they leave.”
While most drivers appreciate the dangers of excessive tread wear, far fewer appear to understand that tyres lose pressure naturally over time, like a balloon, and need to be inflated regularly.
Failure to do this puts their safety at risk: firstly by reducing handling control and causing vehicle drift; secondly by reducing tyre durability, due to excessive shear stress in the tyre shoulder and heat build-up from sidewall bending. Motorists with severely under-inflated tyres face the threat of tyre failure due to these factors.
The one in five motorists driving on excessively worn tyre treads are taking even bigger risks, and threatening the safety of other road users. These drivers face a general loss of road grip and risk hydroplaning at much lower speeds than normal.
Under-inflation also hits motorists’ pockets and the environment. Not only does it accelerate tyre wear and reduce mileage, low inflation pressure also increases tyre rolling resistance, which in turn increases vehicle fuel consumption and emissions.
Bridgestone is urging vehicle owners to follow two steps to safer motoring this summer:
1. Check your tyre pressure – You’ll find the recommended levels inside the fuel filler cap, in the driver’s door and in the vehicle owner’s manual. Remember to inflate when tyres are cold and that a car loaded with passengers and baggage needs higher pressure, as usually indicated in the owner’s manual.
2. Check your tyre tread depths – Bridgestone recommends at least 3mm depth. Also look for signs of bulges, cuts or uneven wear across the tread pattern, these could indicate that the tyre is damaged and needs replacing.