‘Wheel heroes’ tell it like it is for TyreSafe


23rdMar10The fire fighter who’ll never forget a fatal minibus crash involving a youth soccer team… the policeman who attended an accident where a young nurse lost her life due to an under-inflated tyre… These ‘Wheel Heroes’ are among the emergency services professionals supporting October’s tyre safety month. They’re hoping their experiences will help to make drivers aware of the importance of checking their tyres.

Each year, hundreds of people are killed or seriously injured as a result of an accident caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres. As the weather deteriorates and we approach the wettest months of the year, tyre safety month is encouraging drivers to check their tread depth with the 20p test to make sure they stay safe and legal.

If drivers do not have adequate tread depth, they are more likely to be involved in an accident as stopping distances are much longer, grip is lost and the risk of aquaplaning is increased. Drivers also face fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

Of course, the fine is nothing compared to the misery and devastation that can result from driving on defective tyres.

Shaun McKeown is a Forensic Vehicle Examiner for Cumbria Police Collision Investigation Unit and attends serious and fatal collisions across the county.

He’s a staunch supporter of TyreSafe – the not for profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers associated with defective and illegal tyres. In his experience, where tyres are concerned, it’s just not worth taking a risk

“All the incidents I attend are serious and sadly, sometimes fatal. One that will always stick in my mind is the case of a young nurse who suffered fatal head injuries as a result of a rear tyre deflatingz

Despite the warnings, a few months later Shaun attended a crash in which a 17-year-old driver and his teenage passenger had both been killed. Tragically, that incident was also the result of worn tyres.

“These cases are devastating for the families involved and we urge drivers to do all they can to prevent them,” says Shaun.

Clyde Evans is a senior Road Safety Officer with Hampshire fire service, and attends the scenes of collisions in a command and control role. He’s also a staunch supporter of the TyreSafe campaign and says:

“Most collisions are due to human error of some description. There could be a hundred reasons, from the driver being distracted to the vehicle being unfit for the road.

“We’re all responsible for making sure the cars we drive and travel in are safe – but how many of us actually do it?”

As for the young drivers Clyde talks to: “most don’t relish sitting down and listening to stuff about driving carefully, vehicle maintenance or checking their tyres,” he says.

“I don’t set out to shock but when I talk about what I’ve experienced and the lifelong effects on the people involved, I usually get gasps, followed by a stunned silence.

“If you’d seen what I’ve seen, it gives you a different perspective on driving and road safety.”

The TyreSafe campaign gives drivers a quick and easy way to check the legality of their tyres using a 20p coin. In fact, it’s so simple, an adult could do it!

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