As the winter weather approaches, drivers who rely on their vehicles will need to carry out tyre checks. Figures provided by motoring breakdown organisations such as the RAC and AA report every year that the biggest cause of call-outs are related to tyres. Van insurance companies who provide breakdown insurance in their policies agree, and point out that although almost every driver is aware that tyres are required to meet legal limits, very few drivers know exactly what the requirement is.
The law requires a driver to ensure the vehicle he is driving has tyres that have a minimum of 1.6millimetres of tread across the central ¾ width of tread throughout the whole circumference of the tyre. There should be no cuts, tears, lumps or bulges in other parts of the tyre and the tyre must be inflated to the set requirements noted in the vans handbook and in various places on the vehicle.
The average life of a tyre is said to be around 30,000 miles but experienced drivers will know that this really is an average, and a driver with commercial van insurance really can’t afford to take anything for granted. Drivers should realise that there are two main types of tyres and never the twain should meet. Meaning that radial and cross-ply tyres should never be fitted to the same axle, it is illegal. Hauliers and couriers will know that overloading their vans is not only illegal but can damage a tyre and will certainly reduce its life span, as will potholes, speed humps if they are taken too fast and small stones and nails if they are allowed to remain in the tyre for any length of time. Braking hard and accelerating excessively will also curtail the life of most tyres. It is sometimes difficult to find time to check your tyres if you are working to a busy schedule, but it is a task worth doing at the start of every working week.
The penalties for driving with tyres that don’t fit legal requirements is a fine up to £2,500 per tyre and three points on your licence. Of course for some, the penalty is much higher. Faulty tyres cause death on the roads every year and the majority of these can be stopped by doing a simple weekly check.