CRA Public Safety – South Africa

Dries Venter, technical manager at Bridgestone South Africa, explains how a multi-agency approach can help personal and business drivers make better decisions to save lives, while keeping their costs down.

A little-known fact is that the vast majority of car crashes in South Africa are caused by worn or damaged tyres. Tyres in poor condition compromise passenger vehicle handling by as much as 33% and pose a higher risk of tyre bursts and explosions.

This, combined with the dumping of cheap tyre imports into the country, as well as bad roads and a culture of reckless driving, spells disaster for millions of road users in a country with one of the highest road fatality rates in the world.

In the 2018 Easter period, a particularly high period of road accidents and crashes, the police arrested around 1 700 people for driving vehicles with worn tyres, cracking down on a trend that seems to be growing. As new tyres become more and more expensive, consumers are then tempted to buy cheap imports or poorly retreaded tyres.

Car crashes are the result of one or more of three main factors; driver behaviour, vehicle faults and poor road conditions. All these factors may contribute to poor tyre conditions in different ways. For instance, while a vehicle and the road it travels on might both be in good condition, habitual harsh cornering, acceleration or braking can quickly shorten the tyre lifespan.

Conversely, as careful as a motorist might drive, unbalanced tyre wheels will wear tyres down faster. The age of a tyre affects how quickly it wears down – a vehicle that has been parked for a long time without being driven could suffer faster tyre damage as rubber compounds in some brands break down over time.

Ensuring tyres are in the best condition, including checking for cracks, punctures and nails imbedded on the side walls, is one of a motorist’s most important duties. We need to come to terms with the reality that a piece of rubber the width of the palm of a hand is the only thing that separates the vehicle from the fast-moving tarmac.

Buying tyre insurance to cover unforeseen incidents might provide some peace of mind, but this is not foolproof. An insurer could very well refute a claim for any number of reasons, including the quality of the tyre at the time of a claim. This means motorists could end up paying twice, firstly in accumulated insurance premiums and then again for a new tyre, which can send the bill into the thousands.

In order to ensure safer roads, a multi agency approach needs to be undertaken, involving the Road Traffic Management Corporation, the three levels of government and the private sector, particularly tyre and the vehicle manufacturers. The task should be a combination of providing innovative solutions, products and infrastructure to ensure that people are informed and equipped to extend the viable life of their tyres, a simple goal but a complex challenge.

Consumer education, improved road maintenance, stricter law enforcement and protection initiatives such as free

Tyre Damage Guarantees, can go a long way in helping consumers prolong the lifespan and quality of tyres on the road, easing their living cost burden while saving lives.

Source: Bridgestone

Credit to The Lowvelder.