Truck tyre safety
Given that they are a vehicle’s only contact with the road, it may be surprising how apparently common is the lack of care and attention to the tyres of a truck or any other kind of heavy goods vehicle.
The country’s leading tyre safety organisation, Tyre Safe, for example, refers to statistics suggesting that the unsatisfactory condition of tyres continues to be the second most common defect responsible for MoT failures.
Attention to tyre safety is not something that may be left to the annual inspection of the vehicle, but needs to be included in the walk around check made by drivers at the beginning of each shift.
Certain standards relating to the depth of tread that must exist and the proportion of the tyre the tread must cover are established in law and referred to on the official government website on vehicle maintenance, safety and security.
Tyre safety is not only a matter of law, but is also one of the usually implicit conditions of your lorry insurance – your failure to give due regard to the condition of your vehicle’s tyres may severely affect the level of cover maintained and may even result in your insurer invalidating any claim.
The training company for HGV drivers, Urgent Driver Ltd, includes an article on its website about the important of tyre safety and provides a check list of some of the warning signs which the country’s 300,000 drivers need to look out for when conducting the daily vehicle inspection. These include:
- uneven wear – possibly resulting from a failure to maintain tyres at their correct pressure, loose wheel nuts or faulty brakes or suspension;
- centre wear – damage most commonly done by over inflating the tyre;
- rounded wear – typically an indicator of the lorry having been overloaded or driven on a tyre that is under inflated;
- eccentric wear – generally caused by the misalignment of the tyre and the wheel rim;
- sloped wear – suggesting that the lorry has been driven with an unbalanced load, the driver has attacked corners too aggressively or the stub axle has become twisted;
- shoulder wear – commonly a sign of a failure properly to calibrate the steering’s toe in and toe out; and
- localised wear – which might arise if the lorry’s brakes have locked, an axle has been frozen or a repair has failed.
Tyre safety is not only about inspecting for damage or unsafe wear, however, but also extends to the care taken when inflating the tyres.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), for example, refers to the number of fatalities which have been occasioned by the failure of an incorrectly inflated tyre and reminds the owners of heavy goods vehicles that the tyres on an HGV may have been designed to bear a pressure of 34 tonnes of force even before the weight of the vehicle’s load has been taken into account. This represents a considerable explosive force.