The rise in dangerously low tyre treads

The rise in dangerously low tyre treads

In a stark warning asset management provider, i247 Group, claims that too many vans are on the roads with dangerously low tyre treads. CVW investigates.

i247 Group, an outsourced driver support and asset management provider, reports that it is seeing a rise in very low tyre treads on vans.

The Poole-based company says the increase in LCVs with less than two millimetres of tyre tread depth has risen 10% over the last five years, from 30% in 2019 to 40% in 2023. In addition, there has also been a rising number of tyre defects leading to MOT failures on Class 5 vehicles – such as minibuses with 13 or more seats as well as ambulances.

“Driving with worn tyres is dangerous, not just for the driver but for other road users too. We’re really concerned about the rise we’re seeing in fleets operating with low levels of tyre tread with some at illegal levels,” said David Legg, director of tyres, i247 Group.

“We know van fleets are under pressure right now but we’re urging fleets to give their drivers time to carry out critical tyre checks regularly. This is especially important during periods when delivery volumes are high.”

Fleet operators have a ‘duty of care’ responsibility for ensuring vehicles are maintained in a roadworthy condition and drivers are also legally responsible for the condition of the vehicle they drive. Drivers can be fined up to £300 and receive three penalty points or be taken to court if the offence is more serious.

Driving with heavily worn tyres affects a vehicle’s ability to brake efficiently and maintain sufficient surface grip during wet or winter conditions. Low tread tyres are also more likely to suffer punctures and lose air pressure which impacts fuel economy and steering.

i247 Group attributes the rise in worn tyres to the heightened pressure on van fleets. Post pandemic, demand for deliveries remains high which means fleets are often double shifting – using one van for two driver shifts.

The Grocer, the highly respected trade magazine, recently also reported an ongoing shortage of commercial vehicle drivers. Office for National Statistics figures showed there were 6,000 fewer delivery and courier drivers in the UK from April 2022 to March 2023, versus the same period the year before. The data also showed that more than half (55%) of HGV drivers in the UK were aged between 50 and 64. The average age was 53, meaning many truckers and van drivers will be heading towards retirement in the next decade.

These factors combined, Legg believes, are putting scheduling pressures on drivers who simply do not have the time to carry out critical maintenance checks.

He advises fleets to treat vehicle checks as critically as any other job tool pre-use. Ensuring these maintenance checks are conducted regularly can be facilitated by various tools and apps available on the market, promoting compliance and driver safety.

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