The latest road casualty figures available from the Department for Transport show that in 2008 there was a significant increase of 28 percent in the number of motorcycles involved in an accident where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor. This dramatic rise took the tally to a three-year high of 88 accidents.
The sharp rise in the number of bike accidents being caused by faulty tyres is very worrying and completely unnecessary, comments Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. Tyres play a vitally important safety role for motorcyclists and it is essential that they are properly maintained and looked after. Simple, regular checks of pressure, tread depth and condition could have gone a long way to preventing all of these avoidable accidents. Tyre safety is a year-round activity but it is particularly important for those riders who do not use their bikes all of the time to give their tyres a thorough inspection before they start using them again this spring. They should then make these checks part of their regular routine throughout the riding season.
The level of neglect is further demonstrated with analysis of VOSAs MoT data. These figures show that in 2008/9 tyre related defects contributed to more than 26,000 motorcycle MoT tests being failed, equivalent to nearly 75 failures every day. This total represents an increase of just under 1,500 failures over the previous year and more than 2,500 when compared with 2006/7.
Throughout April, tyre and motorcycle dealers across the UK will be hoping to help motorcyclists become safer by offering free tyre safety checks. The checks will include a visual inspection, looking in particular for any cracks, cuts or bulges in the tyre which can make it both dangerous and illegal. Examiners will also look for any irregular wear patterns which can be a sign of problems with other components, set-up or riding style. Pressures will be checked against the recommended levels with any necessary adjustments made for any pillion or pannier loads. Finally, the tread depth will be examined to make sure the tyre has sufficient tread to remove water from the road surface and meets the legal minimum tread requirements.
Checking tyre condition, pressure and tread depth is a very quick and simple process, continues Jackson. By taking just a few minutes to regularly carry out these checks, riders can significantly improve their safety and reduce their likelihood of being another road casualty statistic. For riders who are unsure about how to carry out the checks themselves they simply need to pop into their local dealer who is supporting bike tyre safety month where they can have the checks carried out for free, by qualified professionals.
Dealers wishing to support bike tyre safety month can download free campaign materials by visiting www.tyresafe.org or by calling Christine Joyce on 01787 226995.
For further information about motorcycle tyre safety including a free downloadable information leaflet, visit www.tyresafe.org.
TyreSafes top tips for motorcycle tyre safety
1. Check your tyre pressures from cold at least once a week using an accurate gauge
2. Inflate tyres to the level recommended in the manufacturer’s handbook
3. Inspect tyres for cuts, bulges, uneven wear or objects embedded into the tread pattern and replace if necessary
4. Use dust caps to keep dirt away from the valve core and to act as a secondary air seal
5. If your rims are cracked or bent they should be replaced immediately
6. Check that your tread depth is not below the legal minimum of 1mm (for bikes over 50cc)
7. Replace old or damaged valve stems
8. Select the correct type of tyre for your machine and riding style
9. Check that both tyres fitted to the bike are made by the same manufacturer and have the same tread pattern
10. Make sure that your tyre has been fitted the right way round by checking the directional arrows on the sidewall
11. When replacing tube type tyres always use a new inner tube
12. Make sure your tyre/wheel assembly is balanced correctly
13. Keep oil and grease off your tyres using detergent if necessary
14. If you are unsure on any aspect of tyre pressure or tyre condition take your bike to an approved fitting centre and speak to the experts.