Using Tired Tyres: DVSA’s New Safety Guide

Doing haulage jobs can be tough on your tyres. Long hours, often at high speeds on the motorway, and carrying heavy loads all put a lot of pressure on your vehicle. Of course, although it would be great to use brand-new tyres for every journey, this just isn’t practical. It’d be too expensive, for one thing, and the constant changes would make operations extremely inefficient.

All this means driving on ‘well used’ rubber is pretty much unavoidable for anyone in the transport industry and the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) recognises this. There’s no ban on any material, regardless of its age, instead, the organisation has put together some guidelines to help keep you safe while out on the road. Read on for a summary.
The Risks

Firstly, it’s worth taking a look at what can go wrong if you lose a tyre. Risks include:

•Losing control of your vehicle
•Collisions, potentially at high speeds
•Expensive and time-consuming delays
•Shredded remains posing risks for others on the road

These range from frustrating to potentially deadly, and anyone doing haulage jobs should keep these risks in mind when looking over their vehicle.

Inspections

Unsurprisingly, DVSA’s main piece of advice is simple: inspect and maintain your vehicle’s wheels regularly. As always, the key factor to consider is use. A ten-year old set on a car that’s sat in a garage for most of that time could well be in better condition than a two-year old set on an HGV that’s been out on the road every day. Think about how fast you’ve been going, how long, the average weight of your loads, and so on.

Crucially, you should be thoroughly checking all equipment. Even a new tyre might be showing signs of wear and tear after some particularly heavy driving.

A Comprehensive Plan

Of course, looking at the rubber is just one part of the solution. DVSA strongly advises making full inspections part of a comprehensive risk assessment and management plan.

Companies must take some responsibility here, especially when it comes to establishing policies for the fleet and getting in front of potential problems. But drivers have a role to play too. As well as the details of stress your vehicle is likely to face on the haulage jobs you’re doing, you should also be aware of the impact of other elements of your vehicle. Axle weight and wheel placement are especially important, with the Department of Transport recommending drivers only use older tyres on rear axles – never on the front.

More to Learn

Surprisingly, there’s less known about the impact of tyre age on performance than you might expect. For a long time, officials have been description to advise regular replacement and trust individual hauliers and firms to catch potential problems at inspection.

But that is changing. A 2013 coach crash prompted increased public concern, and the Department of Transport has been carrying out research since then. Six years later, they’re finally due to publish their report. While we of course don’t yet know what the research has shown, the DVSA has made it clear that it will update its guidelines if necessary once it’s been able to review the DOT’s findings.

For those doing haulage jobs, then, there may be more to consider in the future. But whatever the report shows, you can trust that regular and thorough checks will help keep you safe.

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage jobs with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.

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