Bridgestone Reminds Holidaymakers to Check Their Tyres
Millions of Europeans are hitting the road for their summer holidays, and many will get underway without even undertaking the most cursory checks on the condition or pressure of their vehicle’s tyres. If they understood the drastic effect such negligence could have on their journey, they’d probably take the five minutes or so needed for a tyre check. Bridgestone has released a few statistics that should encourage motorists to do just this.
As part of its Think Before You Drive road safety campaign, conducted jointly with FIA Foundation, Bridgestone has carried out more than 100,000 tyre inspections in Europe since 2005. This programme has identified that 26 per cent of drivers run on under-inflated tyres. Almost all of these motorists are unaware of the adverse consequences this can bring to their safety, to their fuel budget and to the environment.
Bridgestone poses the question – why do so many people drive on under-inflated tyres? The reason, it responds, is simple: a tyre deflates naturally over time, like a balloon. So unless tyres are regularly checked and topped up with air when necessary, you will soon be driving on low pressure. And according to Bridgestone, there are three major reasons to keep an eye on tyre pressure.
The first consequence of low tyre pressure is that it puts your safety at risk. Deflation leads to a loss of handling control, increased vehicle drift, and lower tyre durability due to the stress and heat build-up from tyre sidewall bending. The increased weight of holiday baggage, extra passengers and a caravan or boat in tow adds to the potentially dangerous situation.
Secondly, low tyre pressure hits your pocket. It not only increases tyre rolling resistance, pushing up fuel consumption, but also increases tread wear, thus reducing the life of your tyre. Tyre wear life is halved if pressure falls from 2.2 bar to 1.0 bar.
Thirdly and, notes Bridgestone, worse still, driving on low pressure adds an unwanted extra load on the environment, through increased fuel consumption and harmful CO2 emissions.
Bridgestone’s Technical Center Europe, based near Rome, calculates that the 26 per cent of motorists who routinely drive on under-inflated tyres use more fuel than they need to – equivalent to 3.9 billion litres of extra fuel a year. They also emit an extra 9.2 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The European study also showed that 10.3 per cent of checked cars were fitted with tyres worn beyond the legal 1.6 mm tread depth limit. The hazards posed by this, notes Bridgestone, are well documented and include a serious loss of grip in wet road conditions and an increased risk of puncture at speed on the motorway. And this problem appears to be growing: A recent report from Touring Mobilis – an online traffic service of the Belgian Automobile Club and breakdown service “Touring” – noted a 30 per cent increase in punctures in 2008 compared to the same period in 2006. It stated that in response to current economic difficulties, motorists appeared to be postponing the purchase of new tyres and driving for too long on worn treads.
In closing, Bridgestone reminds motorists that “for your safety, your budget and the environment, make sure you check the condition and pressure of your tyres regularly – especially before you drive off with your family for a summer vacation.”