Tyres: Joining up safety and sustainability


Not only do well-maintained tyres play a crucial role in ensuring safety on the road, they also contribute significantly to the sustainability efforts of modern fleets. Emma Burley, communication lead at TyreSafe, explains how

Tyres. Too many of us take them for granted, and when operating a fleet, the impact of neglecting to consider tyre safety and maintenance could be vast. Not only do well-maintained tyres play a crucial role in ensuring safety on the road, but they also contribute significantly to the sustainability efforts of modern fleets.
With a spotlight on safety and a growing emphasis on environmental responsibility, commercial vehicle operators are presented with a unique challenge and an opportunity to balance these two critical aspects.

Safety first: the cornerstone of tyre management

For commercial vehicle operators, safety is paramount. The integrity of tyres directly impacts braking distances, handling, and overall vehicle stability. Neglecting tyre maintenance can lead to a cascade of dangerous consequences, including rapid deflations (or blowouts), skidding, and loss of control – all of which can result in accidents.
Regular inspections and maintenance are fundamental to tyre safety. At TyreSafe, we use the acronym A.C.T – air pressure, condition and tread. Three simple checks that could identify potential pitfalls from both a risk and a cost perspective.  
Regarding air pressure, each tyre should always be checked using an accurate gauge. Underinflated tyres are more susceptible to heat build up, which can often lead to blowouts. Correct tyre inflation will also mitigate wasted fuel due to an increased rolling resistance and improve vehicle performance. Drivers of fleet cars can find the correct tyre inflation for their vehicle in the door sill or use TyreSafe’s pressure look up tool.
Regarding condition, a visual check should be done, looking at the overall condition of each tyre to see if anything might have penetrated the tread, such as nails or other objects. If any of these objects, cracks or bulges are present, the driver should seek professional advice.
Drivers should check the tread of their tyres to ensure they are above the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm. Ideally an accurate tread depth gauge should be used but if this is not available, a 20p coin can be used as a guide. Insert the 20p into E
 the main sections of the tyre and at various points around the circumference – should you see the outer rim at any point, you need to have the tread depth checked as it may be illegal.
Note, this test only applies to drivers of vehicles under 3.5 tonnes, for drivers of HGVs over 3.5 tonnes, the tread limit is 1mm.
Operators should implement a robust schedule for these tyre checks which is a standard requirement among fleets, and include them as part of the daily walkaround routine as properly maintained tyres enhance grip and traction, especially in adverse weather conditions. Moreover, well-maintained tyres lead to reduced fuel consumption, as underinflated tyres can increase rolling resistance, thereby decreasing fuel efficiency.

Sustainability in motion

Beyond the realm of safety, there is increasing emphasis for businesses to practise sustainable vehicle maintenance, including tyres and their disposal. As industries across the country strive to reduce their carbon footprint, responsible tyre management emerges as a tangible and simple means of making a positive impact for a variety of reasons.
This includes fuel efficiency: properly inflated tyres experience less rolling resistance, which means your vehicle requires less energy to move forward. By ensuring your tyres are adequately inflated, you contribute to reducing your carbon footprint.
Another benefit is emission reduction. Vehicles with under-inflated tyres tend to burn more fuel, emitting higher levels of pollutants and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2 that contribute to climate change).
Resource conservation is another reason good tyre management can contribute to your sustainability agenda. Tyres are made from a combination of natural and synthetic materials, including rubber, oil, and various chemicals. The production of new tyres requires substantial resources and energy. By extending the life of your tyres through proper maintenance, such as regular checks and rotations, you decrease the demand for new tyre production.
Waste reduction is another benefit of tyre management. Neglected tyres often wear out prematurely and unevenly. When tyres wear unevenly, they may need to be replaced sooner.
Furthermore, the selection of eco-friendly tyres can significantly enhance a fleet’s sustainability profile. Low rolling resistance tyres are designed to minimise friction between the tyre and the road surface, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and lower emissions. These tyres not only benefit the environment but also lead to long-term cost savings for operators.

Achieving the perfect balance: safety and sustainability synergy

The convergence of safety and sustainability is where commercial vehicle operators can truly excel. By integrating best practices in tyre management, operators can simultaneously prioritise the safety of their drivers and the environment.
Routine maintenance plays a central role in striking this balance. Regular tyre inspections ensure that safety-critical aspects, such as tread depth and pressure, are within optimal ranges. Simultaneously, these inspections provide opportunities to identify wear patterns, allowing operators to address potential issues before they escalate. Addressing these concerns promptly prolongs the life of tyres, aligning with sustainability goals by minimising waste.
Collaboration with tyre manufacturers is another critical aspect. As sustainability takes centre stage, many manufacturers are investing in research to develop tyres with enhanced longevity, reduced rolling resistance, and improved fuel efficiency. Engaging with manufacturers allows operators to access cutting-edge solutions that blend safety and sustainability seamlessly.

Safe tyres save lives (and help the planet)

Safety and sustainability are two sides of the same coin, and commercial vehicle operators are tasked with finding harmony between the two.
In the pursuit of safer roads and a healthier planet, the journey starts with the very wheels that keep commercial vehicles moving forward. As tyre management evolves, it shapes the industry’s future – one that upholds both the safety of drivers and the sustainability of the world we navigate.