The current ‘pothole epidemic’ blighting the UK’s roads is not only causing added financial burden for drivers and councils, but it is also in danger of leading to a rise in the number of tyre related road casualties.
The stark warning has been issued by TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation and comes after the consumer watchdog Which? found that Councils in England and Wales paid out £22.8m in compensation to drivers for pothole related damage in 2012.
“Hitting a pothole can cause a number of tyre and wheel problems which can have a serious impact on road safety,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “Visible damage such as buckled wheels or lumps in the tyre are the most obvious signs of a problem which must be addressed by a qualified professional. However, hidden problems such as cracked alloys can be just as dangerous.”
Indeed, such is the scale of the pothole problem that one TyreSafe member reported more than 100 customers with damaged alloy wheels visited one of its outlets in just the last month alone. Furthermore, following the ‘perfect storm’ conditions for the formation of potholes, many road experts are now predicting months of motoring misery ahead.
“If drivers do hit a pothole, it’s important that they check their tyre pressures regularly over the next few days to see if there is any gradual loss of pressure,” adds Jackson. “Hairline fractures in the alloy wheel can lead to air escaping and low pressure can have devastating consequences.”
Correct air pressure is particularly important for safe driving. Not only is handling and cornering affected by low pressure, but when driven under-inflated for prolonged periods, tyres are more likely to overheat and suffer from rapid deflation. This type of event can be extremely difficult to control as it often occurs at high speeds on motorways risking the life of the driver, vehicle occupants and other road users as well.
Other pothole related damage that drivers are being advised to look out for include cuts, lumps or bulges in the tyre as well as any changes to the vehicle’s feel or handling which can be a sign of misalignment.
“If you are in any doubt about the condition of your wheels and tyres, we’d advise popping along to your nearest tyre retailer so they can give them a thorough inspection and make sure they’re safe to use,” concluded Jackson.
Drivers unsure of their correct tyre pressures can find details in their vehicle handbook, inside the fuel filler cap or on a plate on the driver’s door sill. Alternatively they can use TyreSafe’s free iPhone app or check online at www.tyresafe.org.
How to check your tyre pressures:
1. Check your tyre pressures at least once a month or before a long journey.
2. Pressures should be checked against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended level. This can be found in the vehicle handbook and on a plate which is often located inside the fuel filler flap or on the driver’s door sill.
3. Check the pressure when tyres are cold (i.e. when you have travelled less than two miles).
4. If you are carrying a full load of passengers or luggage or will be towing a trailer or caravan, tyre pressures should be increased in line with the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Details can be found in the vehicle handbook.
5. Ensure a reliable and accurate pressure gauge is used.
6. Check the pressure in all four tyres not forgetting to check the spare tyre as well.
7. While checking pressures, give the rest of the tyre a visual inspection. Remove any stones and other objects embedded in the tread. Look out for any bulges, lumps or cuts.
8. If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your vehicle to an approved fitting centre and speak to the experts.