Closer eye on tyres ‘can save lives’

Published on 30 April 2018 by Robert Drane

Closer eye on tyres ‘can save lives’


Motorcyclists and other road users have been urged to keep a closer eye on their tyres to help save lives.


Illegal, faulty or underinflated tyres caused motorway collisions that killed or seriously injured 32 people in 2016.


And now an 18-month study by Highways England and tyre manufacturer Bridgestone has revealed that almost three-quarters of tyre failures analysed involved poor inflation or debris penetration – issues that could be potentially avoided by paying closer attention to tyres and ensuring they are roadworthy.

The results of the study, which took place in 2016 and 2017, were unveiled at the Commercial Vehicle Show at Birmingham’s NEC on 24 April. Richard Leonard, Highways England’s head of road safety, said: “England’s motorways are the safest in the world but we’re determined to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on them.

“This important research confirms our view that road users must play a bigger role and get into the habit of checking tyre pressures and tread depths and looking out for nails and other debris stuck in tyres before setting out on journeys. These simple checks could save lives.”

Highways England in the West Midlands gathered 1,035 pieces of tyre debris – from motorbikes, cars, vans and commercial vehicles – from the M1, M6, M40, M5 and M42 for Bridgestone experts to analyse. They found:

  • 56% of failures were due to road/yard debris penetration
  • 18% were due to poor inflation
  • 8% were due to poor vehicle maintenance
  • 2% of tyres failed due to manufacturing defects or excessive heat
  • 16% of failures could not be linked to one particular problem.

Samples analysed included a temporary space-saver spare tyre being run to destruction and a number of illegal ‘string’ repairs.

Bridgestone technical manager Gary Powell said: “In light of these results, we would also advise that tyre pressure monitoring systems are fitted to vehicles which don’t benefit from this technology already. It will assist with the detection of penetrations and deflations.”

For more information on tyre safety, visit