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Highways England says we have a real problem with tyre pressure on our roads. According to research they recently released, one in every four cars on the road has at least one tyre that is dangerously under-inflated; nearly all HGVs are running with at least one under-inflated tyre at any given time. This is clearly not a good thing as anyone who knows anything about tyres and safety can attest. Whether a car, horse lorry or tipper truck, maintaining proper tyre pressure is paramount to safety.

The most recent research from Highways England follows earlier research that painted a picture even more grim. That earlier research, from Tyre Safe, found that as many as 10 million cars currently on the roads are operating with tyres that have dangerously low tread levels. Combining low tread with improper pressure is a recipe for disaster.

Highways England worked with Wheelright and Welcome Break to check tyre pressure on vehicles travelling along portions of the M6. They used a system capable of measuring tyres as they drive through; the system is located at a motorway service station near Keele in Staffordshire. Wheelright has been offering free tyre pressure checks for HGVs since the system was put in place.

Wheelright CEO told HGV UK that his company has “taken thousands of tyre pressure readings and have collated some shocking statistics which reveal the true extent of our tyre neglect.” He went on to say that, as many as 1,500 serious accidents each year are directly attributed to defective or improperly inflated tyres. Highways England says that safety is not the only issue. It claims that more than 20% of the breakdowns on our highways are the result of tyre and wheel problems.

Tyres and Walkaround Checks

HGV and PCV drivers in the UK are required to check their tyres during daily walkaround checks. The idea is to find problems as early as possible, ensuring the large commercial vehicles do not get on the road in a condition that would be determined unsafe or not roadworthy. Even if checking tyre pressure is not a required part of such walkaround, we believe it is a good idea nonetheless.

As for the horse lorry or caravan owner not required to have a special commercial driving licence, routine tyre checks are still necessary. Unfortunately, most of us take our tyres for granted until something goes wrong. The statistics from the two research reports lead us to wonder how many accidents and breakdowns could be completely avoided if we paid more close attention to our tyres.

The HGV Training Centre wants to encourage you to pay attention to your tyres, whether you drive a horse lorry, a tipper truck, an articulated lorry, or a passenger car. If we all pay attention to tyre pressure and wear as we should, we can collectively cut down on accidents and breakdowns. It is the least we can do to make for safer roads.

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