As a fleet or transport manager you have a duty of care to ensure your drivers are provided with a safe working environment, which includes the provision of safe and roadworthy vehicles. It is not only essential but a legal requirement.
Given that tyres are one of the most important parts of a vehicle – tyre maintenance should therefore be a top priority. Ensuring the wear and tear on your vehicles tyres is regularly checked, not only protects your drivers but also other road users.
Keep the pressure under control
Tyre pressure can have a significant impact on your vehicles handling, braking and mileage. If tyres are under or over inflated, it can also increase fuel consumption and make them more susceptible to wear and tear. It’s important to make sure that your drivers check their vehicle’s tyre pressure at least once a month, or that isn’t possible, to ensure this is done at the depot where your vehicles are stored, including all spare tyres by your vehicle maintenance team.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the pressure number marked on the tyres is the absolute maximum the tyre can take and should not be used as an indicator for daily use.
Be aware of tyre damage and unusual wear and tear
With many vehicles any given fleet being used by different drivers on a daily basis, a vehicle pre-use check should be encouraged if not made compulsory. This should include a physical check of the vehicle’s tyres, looking out for any signs of unusual wear or damage. This could also include cuts and bulges. Any reported defects should be investigated further and if necessary the defective tyre should be replaced before the vehicle is in use again.
Ensure you have enough tread
Tyre treads have a direct impact not only on the performance of your vehicles but also its overall safety, especially in poor weather conditions. Vans and LCV’s are subject to the same tyre law as cars so they must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters of the tyre around its entire circumference. If any of your vehicles have a tread that is at or below the minimum depth, those tyres will need to be replaced straight away.
Vans and even car derived vans, usually require specific tyres which are designed to cope with the payload of the vehicle. Car tyres are often not suitable for vans. If in doubt, speak to a local tyre retailer for specific advice on the most appropriate tyre your needs and load requirements.
Remember, if you allow a driver to go out in a vehicle with tyres below this limit is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. Having the correct depth is essential to ensuring good control and maximising the safety – so don’t chance it check it.
Avoid overloading your vehicles
Overloading a vehicle beyond its maximum permitted weight limit is an illegal offence and the legal consequences for both drivers and operators can be serious and far-reaching. A vehicle carrying a lot of weight can compromise the handling and cause excessive wear on the tyres due to excessive heat. This could cause a tyre explosion and put your drivers at greater risk danger of being involved in a road collision.
Keep your wheels aligned
Incorrectly aligned wheels can result in uneven tyre wear, which can weaken them and make them more prone to damage. It can also reduce the driver’s control of the vehicle and increase fuel consumption.
Watch where you park
Many of your vehicles will be used to visit customers in residential areas where pulling up to park on a busy street means sometimes mounting the kerb is unavoidable. Mounting the kerb can cause the tyre’s sidewall to become pinched between the kerb and the wheel, causing them to weaken and potentially resulting in a tyre blow-out.
Ideally, you should encourage your drivers to avoid mounting the kerb altogether, it also illegal in some areas. The Highway Code rule 242 states: “You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road.”
Maintain good driving habits
It is important to encourage your drivers to practice good driving habits and to respect the vehicle they are driving. Excessive braking or acceleration or constantly stopping and starting in traffic, can have a detrimental effect on your tyres and cause them wear more quickly.
With this in mind encourage drivers to drive as smoothly and consistently as possible. It is more or less impossible to avoid uneven road surfaces and hazards such as potholes, but by taking extra care, drivers can help to prevent wheels from being knocked out of alignment unnecessarily.●