TyreSafe Chairman Stuart Jackson explains how its efforts are ensuring tyre safety is finally receiving the attention it deserves
Most fleet managers are familiar with making decisions about the tyre brand or pattern that is fitted to their fleet. This choice can have a considerable effect on the efficiency of their fleet and consequently the company’s overall bottom line. Unfortunately, for far too many fleet managers, fleet efficiency rather than safety remains their primary concern about tyres. Once fitted to the vehicle, the tyres can become a forgotten consumable until it is time for the vehicle’s annual inspection. Perhaps even more worryingly, some fleet managers have been known to deliberately delay tyre replacement to save money, even though they are aware that the tyres may be unsafe.
This level of neglect cannot be ignored. According to Department for Transport figures, in 2008 more than 250 people were killed or seriously injured on the UK’s roads as a result of vehicles driving on defective, illegal or under-inflated tyres. Under the Health and Safety Offences Act, which came into force in January 2009, fleet operators have a duty of care to their drivers and must ensure they are provided with a safe working environment, which includes the provision of safe and roadworthy vehicles.
Tyre failures are not only dangerous for the driver of the vehicle who has to control the vehicle, but also for other road users who may have to avoid any tyre debris left in the carriageway. Furthermore, any tyre fitter who has been unfortunate enough to have replaced a tyre on the motorway hard shoulder will testify to the dangers of this operation.
Aside from the many safety issues associated with tyre failures, the fleet manager will have to deal with vehicle downtime, possible missed deliveries with any associated penalty payments, all as a possible result of poor tyre maintenance. In addition, by not looking after the fleet’s tyres properly they will experience premature tyre wear and higher fuel consumption, adding further running costs.
Since its inception three years ago, TyreSafe has been dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of the dangers associated with defective and illegal tyres. It campaigns in line with current legislation, engaging with an ever-expanding range of audience groups. Last year TyreSafe took these safety messages to the HGV sector for the first time in its history. A range of educational materials were developed, giving bespoke tyre safety advice and information for fleet managers, workshop managers, fleet inspectors and drivers.
The truck tyre safety information was made freely available on the organisation’s website and fleets could also receive a dedicated truck tyre safety leaflet. Clearly targeted and effective activities such as these have been behind the success that TyreSafe has achieved in helping to improve road safety. At the end of 2009 these efforts were formally recognised with TyreSafe being awarded the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety award.
Since 1987, the Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards have been presented to individuals, companies or organisations in recognition of their outstanding contribution to improving road safety. TyreSafe received its award within the Road Users category, which recognises education and enforcement programmes that change the behaviour of road users for improved safety. The judges considered over 80 nominations and TyreSafe was one of just 15 bodies that were successfully selected against a set of stringent criteria to receive the award.
Despite being only three years old, the award recognises the positive effect that TyreSafe’s activities have had improving road safety and saving lives. In 2006 when the organisation was established, Department for Transport figures show that there were 44 deaths and more than 1,500 people injured in accidents where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor. The latest figures show that in 2008 this had fallen to 34 and 894 respectively. TyreSafe has undoubtedly played a significant role in this casualty reduction and will continue to educate drivers and other bodies to make the roads even safer.
One of the ways that TyreSafe is achieving this and reaching new audiences is through the partnership is has formed with RoadSafe. During 2009 the organisations formed a reciprocal membership arrangement, which will see them support and take an active role in each other’s campaigns. This arrangement has particular significance for fleets as RoadSafe manages the Department for Transport’s Driving for Better Business campaign. This scheme targets fleets and drivers who drive on business and will form a significant element of TyreSafe’s future activities.
As awareness about the importance of tyre safety grows, TyreSafe’s membership is also increasing. Many companies and organisations recognise the importance of helping their staff and customers stay safe on the roads. By joining TyreSafe, not only can they benefit from receiving relevant news and advice, but they also help to steer the agenda of the organisation and have a direct input into the subjects it campaigns on.
Many fleet operators will be familiar with two of the companies who recently joined TyreSafe as members. VW Commercial and Mercedes-Benz both recognised the importance of promoting tyre safety and joined in 2009. Already their involvement has helped develop the issues that TyreSafe will discuss and during 2010 TyreSafe will be looking at the specific tyre safety issues for van and LCV users. As many businesses in this sector are now delaying the purchase of new vehicles as a consequence of the recession, tyre safety will become even more relevant for the drivers, fleet managers, workshop managers and business owners who must fulfill their duty of care obligations.
Fleets will also be targeted in another new initiative for TyreSafe during 2010. The organisation is now working closely with the Highways Agency and is currently developing an education programme that will provide tyre safety advice to a wide range of audiences including fleet drivers and owners.
TyreSafe will continue to lead the agenda on tyre safety. It will work closely with other areas of the industry bringing valuable safety advice and information to drivers, workshop technicians, fleets and company owners so that we continue to see a reduction in the number of accidents caused as a result of tyre neglect.
For more information
Companies wishing to know more about specific tyre safety issues or how they can become involved with TyreSafe can visit the organisations website at www.tyresafe.org