Could Laser Tread Reader Be the Next Speed Camera?
A new laser tread depth measuring system for moving traffic could become the next speed camera. And while speed cameras have become known as the driver’s nemesis, this idea has already been recognised for its marketing value. ProContour GmbH, the German company behind the H3-D device recently won a mark of distinction in the Reifen 2008 Innovation Awards in the Service/Marketing Ideas category. In fact, Tyres & Accessories has learnt that the German police force and one or two well-known tyre manufacturers have already expressed an interest in placing significant orders.
Working on the principle of laser triangulation, the ProContour H3-D is likely to make a significant contribution to road safety if enough end up being bought and operated. The moment T&A saw the device in action in Essen, all the surveys about a third of the UK car parc running on dangerous worn tyres sprang to mind. Obviously many consumers won’t change their tyres unless they are told to, so why not tell them?
Statistics show that, in Germany, there are 15 fatalities a day from the 55.3 million motor vehicles and 2.79 million trucks registered. In 2005, 2.25 million accidents were recorded by the police, which means a high toll in terms of safely and a concrete economic cost that amounted to 32 billion euros. According to ProContour, studies last year attributed no fewer than 1,214 accidents resulting in injury to “inadequate” tyres, while an earlier TÜV report said that over 60,000 accidents a year in Germany were due to “general tyre causes”, of which nearly 10,000 (and around 50 deaths) were due to tyres with less than the legal minimum tread depth (1.6 mm as it is in the UK). The TÜV study named tyres as the number one technical cause of road traffic accidents in Germany, with over 28 per cent of accidents resulting in personal injury caused by inadequate tyres.
By measuring tread depth as the vehicles are moving; either in the street or at testing points, ProContour says that it should be possible to significantly reduce accidents, deaths and injuries. The company also suggests that the device could be installed at fleet depots, giving an on-going picture of the state of tyres of fleet vehicles. Other suggestions are at freight loading points, ports and border crossings and places where hazardous goods are loaded or reloaded, for example oil refineries. Just think, a retail operation could place one of these in a supermarket car park and then offer a safety check to everyone who triggers the system as they come in.
Another ruse of the system could be as a check that winter tyres are being used in those states where their fitment is compulsory at certain times of the year. The very presence of such a device on our streets would greatly simplify and enhance the collection of statistical data on the numbers of illegal tyres as well as giving a terrific boost to tyre awareness among the general public – particularly the dangers of driving on tyres with inadequate tread depth.
Other Reifen 2008 innovation award winners included: Ventech GmbH for its automatic tyre pressure checking system called Pneuscan ATM, in the Technology/Products category. In addition, Progressiv Reifen Media AG was victorious in the Concepts/Processes category for the utilisation of web service in the Tyre-Pro computer program.