By Jon Howe
Bank holidays are fast becoming a byword for roadside misery, and motorists are being warned to check their tyres before heading off to enjoy next weekend's public holiday.
Tyresafe is pointing to damning breakdown statistics which highlight the issue, with more than 12,000 drivers relying on the AA breakdown and recovery services to deal with tyre-related issues when travelling on bank or public holidays last year.
However, Tyresafe advises that a few simple tyre checks carried out before setting off can significantly reduce the risk of an incident when driving, and can ensure the destination is reached safely.
Stuart Jackson, Tyresafe chairman, commented on the worryingly high number of call-outs attended to by AA breakdown staff on public holidays in 2012, which are perhaps made worse by the fact that these are the figures from just one particular breakdown organisation.
Mr Jackson added that tyres that are not checked regularly or before long journeys could be potentially hazardous, and therefore could bring the driver, passengers and other road users into danger. However, simply ensuring that your tyres have sufficient air pressure can help avoid a number of causes of tyre-related incidents.
Drivers are reminded that carrying extra passengers or luggage, such as bikes, suitcases or roof boxes can mean an increase in air pressure is required, due to the extra weight. Driving with tyres that have not had their pressure adjusted according to the load, can mean the under-inflated tyres can build up excessive heat inside, which could lead to premature failure.
The vehicle manufacturers handbook is the usual source for the correct pressure settings, though these can also be found inside the fuel filler cap and on a plate on the driver's door sill.
Tread depth is another common factor which affects the safe and legal nature of tyres. At least 1.6mm depth is required across the central three-quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference, to maintain it as complying with current UK law. Not only is there a safety risk to not checking the tyre depth, but also a driver failing to comply with the law faces a fine up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.
Most issues can be spotted by a simple visual inspection, which is strongly recommended, particularly as drivers are advised to also remove any objects embedded in the tyres. Furthermore, a tyre should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional if it shows signs of any lumps, bulges or cuts.