TyreSafe outlines the importance of correctly inflated tyres in the fleet transport industry
MoT failure rates for heavy goods vehicles increased from 36.9% in 2005/6 to 39.5% in 2006/7, according to VOSA statistics, with condition of tyres ranking as the second most common prohibition defect. Poorly maintained tyres can cause commercial fleet operators a number of challenges ranging from a duty of care for their drivers and other motorists involved in a tyre failure incident, health and safety risks for those making roadside wheel changes through to vehicle downtime, premature tyre wear and higher fuel consumption, all affecting the profitability of the fleet.
Duty of care
Tyre failures can be spectacular occurrences, and the sight of tyre carcasses at the side of the UKs roads clearly demonstrates the scale of the problem. With super-single tyres becoming increasingly common, the skill of commercial vehicle drivers is tested to the full when a tyre failure occurs. Fleet operators have a duty of care to these employees and must ensure they are provided with a safe working environment, including the correct maintenance of their vehicles.
Not only is the safety of the fleets own drivers put at risk from a tyre failure, but other motorists can also be put at risk by any debris left on the carriageway. Furthermore, as any tyre fitter can testify, fitting a replacement tyre on a motorway hard shoulder is an activity fraught with risk and danger. Correct tyre maintenance can greatly reduce these risks and provide a safer working environment for drivers and fitters.
Premature tyre wear
Driving on under-inflated tyres places excess stress on the tyre shoulders, causing uneven wear towards the outside edge of the tread. Under-inflated tyres also heat up more quickly than correctly inflated tyres, and in extreme cases can lead to tyre failure, which is both dangerous and impacts negatively on delivery performance. Over-inflated tyres can also pose a problem, as over-inflation causes high wear in the centre of the tread. Keeping tyres inflated to the recommended tyre pressure level for the vehicle ensures even tyre pressure distribution, optimum handling, and consequently a more even wear rate, keeping the tyres in service for longer.
Not only are defective tyres costly to replace but can result in significant penalty payments if vehicles either miss their delivery slots or deliver late, which can also amount to a missed delivery, or worse, in the vehicle being kept off the road.
Delivery performance is critical to commercial fleets in terms of meeting customer targets and fulfilling service level agreements. Many customers penalise haulage companies for poor delivery performance, which can result in lost contracts or in some industries, such as automotive, fines of up to 1m per hour. Checking that tyres are correctly inflated is an essential part of fleet maintenance and helps fleet managers to retain existing customers, ensuring that poor delivery performance is not a deciding factor when it comes to contract renewal.
Fuel cost implications for commercial vehicle fleets
With the rising cost of fuel increasingly in the spotlight, fleet managers are keen to identify all possible means of increasing fuel economy. Research conducted by a leading tyre manufacturer and TyreSafe member reveals running under-inflated tyres increases fuel consumption. Keeping tyres correctly inflated helps commercial fleets to minimise their cost per kilometre rate, while economising on fuel costs.
For further information on tyre safety, please visit the TyreSafe website (www.tyresafe.org).