An increasing number of van and other light commercial vehicle operators in the UK are at risk of causing a tyre related accident as they are failing to look after the condition of their tyres properly. The latest VOSA effectiveness report shows that ‘condition of tyres’ remains the most frequent prohibition defect at spot checks on light goods vehicles across the country, but worryingly, the incidence rate has increased from 20 percent in 2007/08 and in 2008/09 to just under 26 percent in 2009/10.
"Van tyres lead a particularly hard life so it is critical that operators regularly check the condition of their tyres for signs of damage or premature and uneven wear," explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. "Building site debris or regular scuffing on kerbs during delivery drops can cause significant damage to tyres. If left unchecked, they may fail at a critical moment, risking serious injury for the driver and other road users."
Responsibility for the condition of the tyres on the vehicle lies both with the van driver and the business itself. Drivers should ensure the tyres are in a roadworthy condition before setting off each day. Indeed, drivers found to be driving on illegal tyres risk incurring a personal fine of £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre. Business owners also have a responsibility and duty of care obligation to provide their employees with a safe working environment, which includes the provision of safe and roadworthy vehicles. Under the Health and Safety Offences Act (2009), UK courts have greater authority to prosecute businesses for committing offences such as fitting illegal tyres or faulty brakes. The maximum penalty has increased from £5,000 to £20,000.
In addition to the punitive risks, businesses also face a number of additional costs by failing to look after their tyres properly. Under-inflated tyres will not only wear out quicker, but the vehicle’s fuel economy deteriorates. Vehicle downtime at the roadside or in the workshop changing or repairing tyres means the vehicle is not earning money, and if deliveries are delayed, this can trigger penalty payments to customers.
"This rising trend of tyre related prohibition defects is extremely worrying," continues Jackson. "I would urge all businesses, large or small, that operate vans and other light commercial vehicles to ensure they have robust procedures in place to regularly check the condition of their fleet’s tyres."