Tyre Safety

Tyre Safety
During one of my most recent, all too frequent trips to a reliable tyre fitting company, I found myself looking at several large stacks of used, damaged and worn tyres.

I found myself drawn to the condition of some tyres, some of which had clearly been used well beyond the legal 1.6mm limit when they should have been replaced. Others were worn through the rubber compound and the base canvas was exposed and frayed.

Both of these examples had clearly been used well beyond their safe use on the public roads – the same roads you and I use every day.

So why is this a problem?

If you are driving with tyres with diminished tread you will find it harder to stop, you will have less grip to the road so if you need to stop abruptly you’ll be crossing your fingers as well as breaking.

Tyres that are too worn or structurally compromised will, at some point, fail.  This is commonly referred to as a blow out, and this will lead to an accident with little to no warning.

Consider this case study  – John see’s that it’s a nice day and decides to go for a drive. He puts the roof down, the stereo up, chair back, one hand on the wheel , the other arm resting on the door and sets off for a relaxing drive. On his journey he joins a dual carriageway which is a 40 MPH road, at this speed he is covering 17.88 metres per second (That is just under 60ft in old money) Another car is passing him in the other lane when suddenly he hears a bang coming from the front corner of his car, he spends the next 2 thirds of a second thinking about what has happened, during those precious moments he travels 12 metres and his car veers uncontrollably towards the passing car and collides with the back corner of it causing it to spin out of control.

You can make up the rest of that story yourself or simply open a random news paper and it may well be a contributory factor to one of the many “Driver loses control” stories.

So what good habits and practices could John have done to prevent this incident from happening?

  • Regularly  check the condition of your tyres – at least once a week
  • Ensure you always check them before you begin a long journey.

What am I checking for?

  • Wear and general condition
  • The pressure of each tyre

How do I do it?

  • Have a visual check of the tyre, ensure there are no cuts, scrapes, gouges or any other form of damage. Tyres often exhibit distressed cracking as they age too.
  • Check the tread depth all round the tyre. It should be 1.6mm across the central 75% of the tyre. Helpful tip – Every tread has several guides that are 1.6mm around the circumference.
  • Check the pressure when they are at cold, when the car hasn’t been driven recently.
  • Ensure the pressure gauge is reliable – the gauges at petrol stations are not always well maintained, calibrated or accurate.
  • Remember to replace the dust caps when finished.
  • You also have a spare tyre so remember to check that too.

Jalal Sohrab and The Big Red B.M.W. – A Case Study in Risk Awareness

Jalal Sohrab and The Big Red B.M.W. – A Case Study in Risk Awareness

Jalal had turned eighteen and had just passed his driving test some two months previously. It was the defining moment of a new stage in his life. He was on his “road to independence.” He looked down from his parent’s third floor apartment at his prized possession, his big red B.M.W., which he had named “Mad for it!” Jalal’s friends had abbreviated the name somewhat, and its street name was now reduced to the acronym, “M.F.I.”  This had displeased Jalal somewhat, as there was no doubt his friends were attempting some mockery, and besides, Jalal loved the car like nothing else mattered.

The first heavy snow of winter steadily began to descend from the thick grey sky above, landing, gathering, and covering M.F.I. like the icing on a Christmas cake.  Jalal noticed the roads had already started to coat a few inches white. It would make driving tonight a bit more exciting, and after all, M.F.I could handle it, he thought. Jalal had to be at work in the parcel sorting office for 4.30p.m; and it was edging past 4.15p.m. as he glanced at his watch. Cutting it fine was his trademark, and anyway, it presented him with the opportunity to put his foot down a bit and enjoy M.F.I’s powerful response. Keys in hand, Jalal scoffed the last of the laden plate of food his mother had left him and set off.

The big heavy amp Jalal had installed in the boot of M.F.I. powered the sound system up to max, he keyed the engine into life, and slammed into first gear.Clutch to bite, he gunned the accelerator and the front wheels spun and squealed in trademark Jalal manner. He was off!

Scenario 1

Jalal arrives at work just in time, receiving a warning look from his supervisor that spoke of his frustration over Jalal’s timekeeping habits. Jalal is excited and elated to have made it to work on time, despite the adversity of road conditions.  Regardless of a few slips along the way as long as he arrived for work on time his supervisor can say nothing against him. Tomorrow, Jalal thinks he will attempt to shave yet more time from his journey.

Scenario 2

Ten minutes into his journey to work Jalal Sohrab had lost control of M.F.I.  He had braked far too late for road conditions, and had skidded out of control. He crashed, smashing  into a vehicle in front, which had been stopped at traffic lights. He was taken to hospital, shocked, and subsequently suffered chronic whiplash injury. The occupants of the vehicle in front, a mother with her two children in the back of her car, were also injured. The children screamed and cried uncontrollably amongst shattered glass. Their mother  distraught, panic stricken. They were  taken away by ambulance and also subsequently suffered whiplash injury. The psychological damage would evidence itself later.  A pedestrian, who had been walking across the road at the “green man” signal, had narrowly escaped being hit by the forward propulsion of the mother’s car on impact from Jalal’s B.M.W. it was he who aleted the emergency services.

Jalal had never thought of himself or others as at risk through his actions, but any “Really Good Driving School” instructor would have recognised that risk was apparent even before Jalal had set out of his family home.

Now, my pupils, your job is to list all the events and attitudes that made Jalal Sohrab an accident waiting to happen, where he was at risk, and what also could have happened through his actions.
Describe how Jalal’s life –  post accident –  may be affected.
Think about the victims- they are victims -and how their lives could be affected by this incident.
How might the mother feel about Jalal?
How would you feel if you were Jalal?

Now look at scenario 1. Describe if you can see any parallels between Jalal’s actions and attitude, and what your own may be.

Scenario 2 may help to explain why insurance for young, new, and especially male drivers is so costly. I don’t mind admitting that I was a young driver once, and probably took risks both knowingly and unknowingly. For instance, I would not have realised that having a lot of weight in the boot of my car could have really had an effect on the steering and front wheel grip. Oops! Gave an answer away there! See for loading advice. That said, I would have known that in adverse weather I would take extra precautions – not giving you an answer this time!

At Really Good Driving School we care passionately about our pupil’s safety, and are always happy to offer further training and advice.
New drivers have a one in five chance of being involved in a serious driving accident during their first year of driving. 26 per cent of road accidents involve at least one young car driver aged 17 to 24. We don’t want any of our trainees to be in the above statistic. We believe education can help. Please have a go at the above case study. Bring your answers into the car on your next lesson to discuss with your instructor. Let’s see how risk aware you are, and where we can help you.

Responsibility – One of The Vital Qualities Of Safe Driving

Responsibility – one of the  vital qualities of safe driving. I came across this D.S.A. video and thought it quite a powerful message. I can’t emphasise enough that getting a licence is just the first step to driving. What we do with that licence has an effect on so much more people than the driver. Case studies in theory tests can help foster responsible attitudes. So can driving instructors, mums and dads and peers. Education is so vital to understanding the dangers of irresponsible driver behaviour, so i unashamedly recommend you take a look at this short film.

Minimising Road Risk – And Taking Responsibility.

By 2020, the World Health Organization predicts, road fatalities will be the world’s third-leading cause of death. A lot of us may spend more time driving than we do with our family, on holiday, or even sleeping- though alarmingly, there is a high statistic of people falling asleep while still behind the wheel!- and we can see how our road risk profile builds up.

Self – Awareness – The First Step To Taking Responsibility
How therefore, do we minimise risk? Well, the first step is to  actually realise that risk exists. None of us are exempt from risk, even the most skilled drivers cannot guarantee that another road user will not crash into them.
Further to the above, how many of us assess our driving performance, and, can admit we have weaknesses? Surely we all must have weak areas in our driving? From knowledge of the Highway code to reversing into a parking area, to merging onto a busy Motorway, to getting stressed and angry, most of us will make some mistakes. After all, to err is human.
Once we have taken account of the above, and realised that we have indeed, a risk factor, then we can take further measures to minimise our risk. In this blog-post  i will highlight some procedures that should help drivers to take control of their responsibilities. I must admit to a bit of self  interest here though, because the safer  my fellow driver is, the safer I will be when conducting driving lessons throughout the Glasgow area!

The Driver
Ultimately, the driver is responsible for not just their driving, but also their vehicle, and complying with the laws of the country they are travelling in. Even with a hire car the driver is held to account if the vehicle is not roadworthy; this could range from tyre, lights, and road tax offences. Firstly though, let’s look at how a drivers efficiency as an operator of the vehicle is influenced by their knowledge, experience, health and attitude.
Driver Knowledge
Ignorance is seldom an excuse in the eyes of the law. Be it knowledge of a speed limit or complying with driving regulations in a foreign country, it is the drivers responsibility to be be informed and up to date. Many publications exist to help with this, such as the Highway Code for the U.K. or for driving abroad. Perhaps we should ask ourselves how up to date our knowledge is? For instance, when i am working as a driving instructor around Maryhill Rd., hardly any vehicles drive along the bus lanes, even though they only prohibit traffic at peak times in places.

Driver Experience
There is no doubt that new drivers are involved in a far greater number of road traffic accidents than those with greater experience. New drivers are often young and need to be aware that certain key factors increase their road risk, such as their social habits and peer influences. In my next blog, i will examine some of these issues.

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