John Catling

Drivers under pressure to ensure tyres are correctly inflated

The tyre pressure system in action during the CV Show (inset: John Catling)

Motorists visiting last month’s Commercial Vehicle Show (CV Show) at the NEC, Birmingham, had the opportunity to test a revolutionary tyre pressure system for free by simply driving over the instrument, which was installed at the venue’s East car park.

Drivers were then able to obtain their results by confirming their registration number on a touch screen at the WheelRight stand and taking a print-out of their individual tyre readings.

However, while that sounds simple enough, only half of the tyre pressures monitored by the WheelRight system were found to be within 10% of their correct levels.

And, what’s more, data gathered revealed that more than one in ten of vehicles tested were found to have tyres that were under-inflated by more than 20% – significantly below the tyre pressure levels recommended by manufacturers.

On the last day of the CV Show, the WheelRight system read the pressures of 1,476 vehicles.  Measuring a vehicle every eight seconds and a tyre pressure every 2.5 seconds, the instrument was used by a non-stop stream of vehicles, with nearly 500 vehicles measured in an hour.

WheelRight’s data is a clear demonstration of poor tyre pressure maintenance and is consistent with other tests carried out with the demonstration unit at other public events.  Worryingly, the lowest tyre pressure monitored at the show came in at nine psi (pounds per square inch).

The company’s testing also revealed that drivers are incurring needless costs and endangering their safety through inadequate tyre inflation.

Meanwhile, the UK sees approximately 25 deaths and nearly 1,500 serious accidents every year attributed to poorly inflated or defective tyres (source: Road Safety Observatory – April 2014)

Tyre under-inflation of 10% typically costs the average HGV operator £1,000 per vehicle each year in extra fuel usage and tyre wear.

According to TyreSafe, the leading not-for-profit tyre safety organisation, under-inflated tyres also make the engine work harder to turn the wheel and concentrates the vehicle weight on the outer shoulders of the tyre, causing accelerated tread wear.

Commenting on WheelRight’s findings at the NEC, the company’s chief Executive, John Catling, said: “The data we have collected clearly highlights that tyre pressure remains an issue of concern.  Indeed, the lowest tyre pressure read by our system during our CV Show demonstration revealed nine psi – a worryingly and extremely unsafe result.”

The demonstration at the CV Show continued the company’s campaign to encourage fleets to adopt best practice in introducing daily tyre pressure checks.

WheelRight’s tyre pressure monitoring system is currently installed at Keele Services on the south-bound M6, where both HGV drivers and motorists can check their tyre pressures.  The installation is running in conjunction with Highways England and site operator Welcome Break.