Why tyres are the most likely items to contribute to a car accident
New study provides shocking insight, our Road Safety authority expert explains this week
I just didn't like the look of one of the front tyres. They looked under-inflated. So I stopped at the local garage to check the pressure on them all. I check them about once a month, which is the recommendation. The pressure was just a couple of psi out but one of the rear tyres was down to 26 psi; it should be 32.
There was a lady parked beside me. The tyres on her car looked really under-inflated. I offered to check them. She declined the offer. Maybe she thought I was a weirdo or didn't think it was worth the effort. If it's the latter, it's really symptomatic of the public's attitude to tyres. Our own studies show that people know that they should check them regularly, and know how to check them, but very few do.
This is hopefully about to change. The RSA recently published a report on the role vehicle factors play in fatal road crashes. It makes for disturbing reading. 'Pre-Crash Report on Vehicle Factors in Fatal Collisions', was produced by analysing data from detailed 'Forensic Collision Investigations' conducted by An Garda Síochána between 2008 and 2012. These reports differ from the initial on-scene preliminary investigation carried out in the immediate aftermath of a crash which form the basis of our annual crash reports.
Forensic reports are much more detailed and can take years to complete. They examine the circumstances and factors contributing to these collisions and record where vehicle factors are listed as a contributory factor in the Investigation files by the gardai. These factors include the condition of tyres, brakes, lights, steering etc.
Of the 867 collisions analysed, 858 involved a motor vehicle. In total 101 or 12pc of fatal collisions were identified as having a vehicle factor which contributed to the collision. These may not have been the sole cause of the collision, but may have contributed in full or part to the outcome in combination with speed, alcohol etc.
Tyres were the number one vehicle factor. They were a known contributory factor in 8pc of all collisions involving a vehicle.
When you look at the factors as a whole, the condition of tyres accounted for almost two thirds (64.1pc) of the 101 collisions where a vehicle factor was cited as contributing.
Defective tyres were a big factor in single vehicle crashes (74.1pc) when compared with multiple vehicle crashes (57.6pc).
More than half of the tyres were excessively/dangerously worn and 10pc were underinflated, some dangerously low. About 6pc comprised a combination of excessively worn, under-inflated, wrong size or fitted in the wrong direction.
The county with the largest proportion of defective tyres was Donegal (18.2pc), followed by Cork, Kerry and Wexford (9.1pc each). Losing control on a bend on a regional road and on a road surface that was dry at the time were typical scenarios.
In all, 111 people lost their lives and 30 were seriously injured in collisions where vehicle defects were a contributory factor. This may not have been the sole cause of the collision, but this fact in combination with other pre-crash behaviours such as alcohol, speed etc. resulted in these deaths.
Of the 111, 71 people were killed and 19 were seriously injured in a collision where a vehicle had defective tyres as a contributory factor. A further 18 people were killed and six were seriously injured in a collision where a vehicle had defective brakes. Again, this may not have been the sole contributing factor to the collision but may have had an impact on the outcome.
There is no component in your car that's as likely to contribute to a crash as your tyres.
The reason for this is that tyres simply aren't on the radar. You never think about them until you need to. It's time to take tyre safety more seriously.
You need to think about what a worn tyre might cost you. What you might lose when your tyres lose grip with the road.
As a result of this research the RSA have embarked on a major tyre awareness and safety campaign this week. The message is simple.
When your tyres lose grip, you lose everything. Check yours regularly.