A busy year for TyreSafe
Safety organisation TyreSafe held its annual communications briefing in September, where chairman Stuart Jackson looked back on the organisation's achievements and gave a taste of future initiatives.
He began with a brief history – TyreSafe was formed in 2006, with 14 members and held its first tyre safety month the following year. Since then it has mounted various campaigns, majoring on subjects such as pressure, tread depth, part-worn tyres and winter tyres, to name but a few. These campaigns have been staged across all media – print, TV, radio and online and the organisation's efforts were recognised when it picked up the Prince Michael Road Safety Award.
TyreSafe has formed partnerships with a wide range of companies and organisations over the years, both within and outside the tyre industry, and today it can boast more than 50 associates. Its mission is to raise awareness about the dangers associated with defective or illegal tyres, emphasising the benefits of regular checks and maintenance and, since 2006, the number of people killed or seriously injured in a tyre-related accident has fallen by 38 per cent and TyreSafe can be proud of its contribution to this achievement, said Jackson.
Not only that, but the organisation is very cost-effective, he said, telling the audience that TyreSafe campaigns achieve a 416 per cent return on investment for members.
What it does
Under the heading ‘The TyreSafe Solution’, Jackson spelt out what the organisation does and what are its aims. As said earlier, it aims to educate motorists about the important part tyres play in motoring safety and tries to make them aware that they have a duty of care to other road users and that they themselves are responsible for the tyres on their car. The three key issues that TyreSafe has always concentrated on in this area are tread depth, pressure and condition of the tyres and motorists are urged to continually be aware of these. Jackson acknowledged the difficulty of achieving this when he said “We don’t offer an overnight solution – it is a long-term project.”
Neither is TyreSafe awash with money – it has a budget of £100,000 – so it has to spend wisely to achieve maximum value for money, developing partnerships with key, influential organisations and achieving maximum exposure with national PR and media campaigns. “We have taken tyre safety and tyres to national TV and radio” Jackson reminded the audience and he hinted at a possible future project with the BBC, with the caveat that it was early days yet.
Driving home the message
As well as saving lives, improving road safety makes economic sense; Jackson explained that, when the government looks at safety programmes, it assigns a monetary cost to them and, in 2010, the human and economic cost of road safety was said to be £73 million.
At this stage, Jackson introduced PC Shaun McKeown, who is a forensic vehicle examiner with Cumbria Police. His job – which is not one that many people would envy – involves looking at vehicles that have been involved in accidents, usually immediately after the accidents have occurred. McKeown showed a series of photographs that were the aftermath of accidents in which the tyres were a contributory factor.
While it might be thought that such accidents are down to illegal tyres, quite often this was not the case, as McKeown showed that many were caused by cars having good tread depths on the front tyres and significantly less on the rear, or else one tyre that was worn more than the rest. When these cars hit standing water (and this year’s rainfall has made this a particular problem) it is easy to lose control.
McKeown related a series of fatalities and injuries to illustrate his point and one especially poignant tale was of a 17-year old who lost control and was killed. When the police officer went to tell his family, they said it was probably down to the tyres, which they know were low on tread and showed the policeman a set of new tyres, which they had bought as a Christmas present and would have given to their son in a few days.
Part worn tyres
TyreSafe has been particularly active and vocal recently on the subject of part worn tyres, including a slot on the Radio 4 consumer programme ‘You and Yours’. However, the organisation didn’t just talk about it, it went out and bought 50 part worns. Of these, only one was totally legal and, although many were illegal because of lack of markings, around one third showed signs of damage or were badly repaired. A DVD was made and is available online, plus TyreSafe will mail a copy to its associates.
The subject of part worns is, said Jackson “a growing problem” and his estimate of the size of the part worn market was anything up to five and a half million tyres. It is a subject which TyreSafe will pursue or, as Jackson put it: “we rattled a few cages and we’re not going to stop.” This is a reference to the fact that the campaign attracted a lot of supportive phone calls, plus some that were angry.
There was a wide-ranging discussion on how the laws could be enforced and a call for Trading Standards to be more active. A member of the audience from Trading Standards pointed out that many departments had been the victims of financial cuts and didn’t have the same manpower. Stuart Jackson said that, if we can educate the motorist, he might start asking questions about whether or not the tyres have been examined, inflation tested, etc. The Trading Standards audience member said that some part worns are attractive because they are cheap, saying that his department had come across a part worn tyre in Birmingham that cost £2 – balanced.
Looking back and ahead
2012 has proved to be a busy year for TyreSafe, with the organisation addressing more topics than ever before, including TPMS legislation, a campaign aimed at motorcyclists, explanation about tyre labelling, educating car fleet managers about tyre care and maintenance, plus of course the part worn tyre campaign.
The briefing was held just before the start of Tyre Safety Month (TSM) and the reason that October is chosen is no coincidence, said Jackson, as it is traditionally the wettest month of the year and the “gateway to winter”, with conditions worsening. “It is,” he told the audience, “an opportunity for the whole industry to become involved and can become a key platform for your own activities.”
As well as updated POS material and posters, this year’s TSM includes what Jackson described as “a strong call to action” involving TyreSafe’s now-familiar 20p tread depth test. This has now been integrated with TyreSafe’s Facebook page and viewers are invited to make a pledge to carry out the 20p test. The idea is to appeal to a younger audience and the hope is that, by using social media to spread the message, young people might start to regard safety as ‘cool’.
Stuart Jackson ended his address with a look ahead to next year. A number of campaign ideas have been put forward, including car and bike safety months, campaigns aimed at young drivers, taxi drivers and car fleets, plus an escalation of the campaign against part worn tyres. 2013 promises to be at least as busy as 2012, he told the audience.