A German company, ProContour, has released a laser tread-depth measuring system that can read the tread depth of moving cars. With one third of British cars running on dangerously worn tyres this device could have a serious impact on road safety.
The fact that the German police have expressed an interest in the machinery could set alarm bells ringing for motorists. In years to come we may have to be on the look-out for more than just speed cameras. However, the system could well be put to use in less alarming ways. The device could be installed in fleet depots to monitor the condition of fleet vehicles. It could also be used by tyre retailers who could set up in car parks, and then offer new tyres to any motorists whose tyres are diagnosed as being dangerously worn.
The system, which was awarded a mark of distinction at the Reifen 2008 Innovation Awards, works on the principle of laser triangulation. The manufacturers see the device making a significant contribution to increasing road safety.
According to ProContour, over the past year more than 1200 accidents in Germany resulting in injury or death were attributable to sub-standard tyres. Their research has shown that worn tyres are the leading cause of traffic accidents in Germany, and other research points to this being the case in many other countries, including the UK.
The system, which measures the tread depth on moving vehicles, would facilitate the collection of data concerning dangerously worn tyres, and would raise awareness of the problem. ProContour claim that this would result in a significant reduction in accidents, injuries and deaths.