Company car drivers not making adequate safety checks


14thOct09-2A worryingly high number of company car drivers may be driving illegally and risking serious injury after a survey by TyreSafe found that an alarming 25 percent of company car drivers had never checked the depth of their tyre tread and a further 41 percent had not checked them within the last six months.

Both companies and employees have responsibility for tyre safety on fleet vehicles and those not making the necessary checks face fines and other penalties. To simplify the task of checking tyre tread, companies are being encouraged to promote TyreSafe’s ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ initiative to their employees which encourages simple monthly checks, using a 20p coin.

“As part of their health and safety obligations, companies should make sure that drivers understand their own individual responsibility towards tyre checks,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “Company car drivers typically cover around 20,000 miles per year, almost double that of private motorists so it is particularly important that they pay attention to their tyres. Our 20p lifesaver is a really quick and simple way of seeing if your tyres have enough tread to be safe and legal. By performing these checks just once a month, we believe the number of work-related accidents and cost to UK businesses can be dramatically reduced.”

According to RoadSafe, as many as 1,100 people are killed and 118,000 seriously injured each year in the UK, in work related road accidents. Not only is staff morale and the reputation of the company damaged in these incidents, but significant costs are incurred through areas such as lost output, missed deliveries or meetings and higher insurance premiums.

TyreSafe’s ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ campaign encourages drivers to insert a 20p coin into the main grooves of the tyre to check the tread depth. If the outer band of the coin is visible when inserted, then the tyre may not have sufficient depth and should be checked by a qualified specialist.

Current UK law states that tread on car tyres must be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread, around its entire circumference. Drivers found in breach of this law face a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre. Company car drivers accumulating enough points may have their licences withdrawn, and therefore face the prospect of losing their job as well.

Adequate tread depth is critical to safe motoring, particularly as we approach the wettest months of the year. The tread grooves are designed to remove water from the road surface and keep the tyre in contact with the road. If the tread grooves are not deep enough, water cannot be moved resulting in a loss of grip and traction which can lead to longer stopping distances, reduced handling and an increased likelihood of aquaplaning.

TyreSafe’s ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ campaign is being promoted as part of October’s tyre safety month. Throughout the month hundreds of garages and tyre dealerships across the UK are offering free tyre safety checks. In addition, TyreSafe has made a movie presented by motoring journalist Quentin Willson which shows the dangers associated with driving on illegal tyres. To view the video visit, or search for ‘TyreSafe’ on video sharing site YouTube.

TyreSafe’s tips for checking tyre tread depths

– Ideally, tyre tread depth should be checked at least once a month at the same time that you check your tyre pressure.

– If you do not have a calibrated tread depth gauge a 20p coin provides a useful guide.

– Insert the 20p coin into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width.

– If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal and you should have them checked by a qualified tyre specialist.

When checking your tread depth, give the rest of the tyres a visual inspection for any cuts or bulges and remove any stones or objects embedded in the tread.

TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the dangers of defective and worn tyres. TyreSafe has campaigned consistently to underline the importance of tyre safety for more than 15 years and was rewarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2001.

TyreSafe receives positive support from many major tyre manufacturers and retailers, and has been credited with reducing the number of defective tyres in the UK over the past decade from 18% to 12%.
TyreSafe is a signatory to the European Road Safety Charter which was launched in 2004 with the aim of halving the number of deaths on European roads by 2010.

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