Government body Highways England has announced plans for a ‘blitz’ on illegal and unroadworthy tyres in a bid to reduce the number of people killed or serious injured in tyre-related crashes on UK roads.
The organisation says it deals with a whopping 3,500 wheel or tyre-related incidents every month, often caused by under- or over-inflation, bulges, blisters or cracks. It also identifies caravans as a cause for concern: long periods of not being used before being towed hundreds of miles in the summer months creates the perfect recipe for a blowout.
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Around 120 serious injuries and eight fatalities on UK roads in 2016 were linked to tyre-related incidents, a figure Highways England is on a mission to reduce.
“Tyre failure is often due to incorrect inflation or worn treads,” said Highways England road safety lead, Stuart Lovatt. “This can lead to everything from frustrating congestion caused by breakdowns to catastrophic collisions and tragic loss of life.
“We are committed to dramatically reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on our motorways and major A roads. A focus on tyre safety will be a key activity for us over the next few years with an emphasis on reaching out to particularly vulnerable road users.”
Examples of how Highways England is working to improve awareness of tyre safety range from handing out tread gauges to developing a ground-breaking initiative at motorway service stations, where drivers can drive-through sensors for an instant print-out detailing the health of their tyres.
The announcement, which comes at the end of Tyre Safety Month, has been welcomed by the AA, who reports that tyre issues have overtaken battery problems as the number one call out for its patrols.
“These initiatives couldn’t come any sooner,” said director of motoring services at AA Tyres, Simon Benson. “On average, the AA attends a vehicle with tyre problems every 60 seconds. And a third of the tyres AA patrols see are illegal – below the 1.6mm minimum tread depth.”