Tyre maker Bridgestone SA has said it is concerned by a decline in tyre safety in Port Elizabeth. Commenting on the results of the latest round of the company’s Tyre Check programme, Bridgestone PR Manager, Mandy Lovell, said that the latest PE tyre survey, held on Saturday 22 June, was disappointing in comparison with the Windy City’s record-setting performance of 2012.
“In 2012, Port Elizabeth’s drivers set a new benchmark with just 2% of tyres surveyed being found to be so badly worn or damaged that they required replacement,” Lovell said. “However, in the June 2013 survey, this figure has shot up to 7%. We can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but it might be that economic conditions are forcing people to delay replacing worn or damaged tyres. This obviously has a severe negative effect on road safety,” she commented.
In other aspects of the survey, tyre pressures were checked and vehicles were examined for mis-matched tyres, where tyres of different makes or tread patterns are mixed on the same vehicle. A total of 1184 tyres on 296 vehicles were checked, comparing closely to the 1172 tyres on 293 vehicles in the 2012 survey. The tyre mis-match rate also showed a substantial increase, from 1% in 2012, to 4% in the most recent survey.
The Tyre Check programme classifies a tyre’s pressure as ‘fine’ if it is between 180 kPa and 290 kPa , ‘dangerous’ if the pressure is below 180 kPa but above 150 kPa, and ‘extremely dangerous’ where tyres register below 150 kPa or above 290 kPa. The number of tyres in the ‘extremely dangerous’ category increased marginally from 6% in 2012 to 7% in 2013, but there was a glimmer of hope in the other categories, with ‘dangerous’ tyres dropping from 6% to 4% and tyres classified as ‘fine’ rising from 88% to 89%.
Bridgestone staff who conducted the survey in the car park of Pick n Pay’s Moffet Retail Park store interacted extensively with motorists, handing out tyre information leaflets and goodie hampers, as well as leaving a tyre report under the windscreen wiper of each vehicle surveyed.
“On the one hand we’re pleased to see the general levels of tyre pressure maintenance holding their ground, but on the other hand we’re concerned by the considerable decline in tyre condition and mis-matches,” Lovell commented. “The problem with damaged tyres is that they can fail without warning, and it goes without saying that tyres with worn tread aren’t able to disperse water in rainy conditions.”
She said that the increase in the rate of mis-matches was probably related to the increase in the number of unsafe tyres. “Instead of replacing tyres well in time as a pair or a full set, motorists are probably waiting until a single tyre absolutely has to be changed, and then replacing only that tyre,” she said. “This can lead to a vehicle being shod with two or more tread patterns over time.”
Bridgestone appealed to motorists to consider safety when spending on motoring purchases. It’s tempting to delay tyre replacement in tough times, but tyres are like brakes – they’re safety critical. Rather save money where you can to ensure that when you need traction to save a life, you’ve got it.