It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, motorists reluctantly have their worn tires replaced either by choice or when recommended by tire dealers and are never very happy about it. The scenario that is an outright danger to road safety continues and shows no sign of being rectified.
However, in Europe (or should I say the UK with Brexit looming!) a recent development does show a glimmer of hope that “’common sense” eventually will triumph in this war with car drivers.
It has come to my notice that a recent impressive exercise by UK-based expert Sigmavision Ltd. in tread depth products and Bridgestone has possibly highlighted a positive way forward for the emergence of a new possible solution to the problem.
At a recent professional golf event a team of Sigmavision technicians 3D scanned the tires of 2,400 vehicles in one of the many car parks while everyone was following the tournament over a two-day period, which again backed up the UK industry’s belief that motorists treat their tires with utter contempt when it comes to regular pressure checks.Of the 2,400 vehicles inspected by the Sigmavision handheld TreadReader scanner, an alarming 500 vehicles had 805 badly worn tires or uneven wear caused by wheel misalignment or tire inflation problems. It is also interesting and worrying to note that 380 vehicles (15.8%) arrived at the event with at least one tire below 3 mm.
Also, 65 of those vehicles (2.7%) had at least one tire with a tread depth below the legal limit of 1.6 mm. At the same time 389 of the 805 tires (48.3%) revealed uneven wear mainly associated with wheel misalignment with 225 tires (28%) showing a significant amount of uneven wear with a 1 mm tread depth difference from one sidewall to the other. It was also interesting to note that 189 tires (23.5%) showed signs of under-inflation.
So once again we have disappointing proof that despite all the campaigning by tire safety associations in Europe, the message just isn’t getting through to motorists that to ignore the ongoing condition of their tires is endangering their safety.
In my opinion this new Sigmavision TreadReader is the best product I have ever experienced to make drivers aware how important their tires are and just maybe the success of the TreadReader could be developed even further. The TreadReader offers innovative technology that creates a three dimensional scan of a tire’s tread depth and reveals any uneven wear due to an incorrect inflation level, misalignment or suspension problems. What is particularly significant about the TreadReader is that unlike laser line scanners, it gives accurate readings even on wet and dirty tires.It is obvious that all the promotion is not going to alter the majority of European drivers’ highly negative attitude toward tires, which are basically viewed as a distress purchase.
So I feel the industry has no option but to get tough with its customers to make them appreciate the product’s capabilities and lifespan. By this I mean it’s time the concept of products such as the TreadReader was made a “compulsory purchase” for everyone registered with a vehicle. They should be a legal requirement just like a warning triangle and other visionary breakdown products.
Will this happen? Well it should, but I fear it is going to take a long time before it receives government approval. But I know there is growing support throughout the European tire sector for such dramatic (but wholly necessary) action to be taken.
Obviously this would be the first step as then (somehow) you have to get drivers to regularly check their own tire pressures, which will be far from easy.
However, you only have to read the annual (shocking) statistics on drivers and pedestrians either killed or seriously injured to realize this may be the only alternative. ■
John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 25 years. In 2004 he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.
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