The more than 40% increase in road accidents over the 2015 Easter holidays, with a recorded 208 car accidents nationally and 287 fatalities, compared to the 148 crashes and 193 fatalities nationally during this period in 2014, puts the pressure on all South Africans to ensure the safety of their vehicles, their passengers and other road users.

Every year road safety campaigns advise drivers to do a full vehicle check before embarking on long-distance journeys, but the importance of checking your vehicles and the condition of your tyres after long-distance travelling is often overlooked.

It is vital to take the same care and precautions after a long trip as is taken before setting off on holiday. “Doing a safety check on vehicles after holidays and long-distance travelling is an essential aspect of road safety,” says Nobuzwe Mangcu, managing executive at the South African Tyre Manufacturer’s Conference (SATMC).

“Tyre safety is a critical area of concern for SATMC,” says Mangcu. “Ensuring that all tyres are still in a good condition after a trip could be the key to your safety. We all want our roads to be safe and that means we need to prioritise the safety of our tyres.”

SATMC is a representative body consisting of the four local tyre manufactures including Bridgestone, Continental, Sumitomo and Goodyear. These four companies manufacture tyres regulated by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) and are in line with international safety standards.

When a vehicle’s tyres are in good condition, they perform significantly better in terms of gripping the road, cornering, distributing heat evenly, reducing rolling and improving braking; resulting in a more comfortable ride, increased overall safety and reduced fuel costs.

Mangcu shares six tips to ensure that your tyres are in the best condition to safeguard our roads:

  1. Inspect your tyres at least every second week, and before and after long-distance trips. Check the tyre pressure, whether there is sufficient tread and whether there is any damage to the tyres, including if there are any nails or sharp objects embedded that could cause a puncture.
  2. Make sure the tread on your tyres is more than 1mm over the entire tread surface; this will prevent skidding on wet roads and will decrease your breaking distance. A 3 mm tread depth has about 20% more stopping ability on a wet road than a tyre with 1 mm tread.
  3. Check the tyre pressure before going on a long trip, and change the pressure according to the recommended pressure for the full load. After the trip, reduce the pressure to those recommended for normal driving conditions. Under-inflated tyres will increase fuel consumption and tyre wear on the tread shoulders, while over-inflated tyres will reduce grip especially in wet weather and run down the tread over the middle of the tread surface.
  4. Check wheel balancing and alignment at regular intervals and when you feel any sign of vibration on the steering or have hit a pothole or the curb. Correctly balanced tyres reduce vibration, which make for a smoother ride and increase tread and shock absorber life.
  5. All punctures need to be assessed as soon as possible. If the puncture is in the tread and less than 6 mm in diameter, it can be professionally sealed and you can continue to drive with that tyre, but if it is bigger than 6 mm or occurs on the sidewall, the tyre will have to be replaced.
  6. Replace your tyres in fours or at the very least in pairs. It is important to invest in quality tyres designed with the South African road and climate conditions in mind to ensure a longer lifespan and superior road performance. The replacement tyres also need to be the same type of tyres as the originals, with the same load index and speed rating.

Tyre failure is a significant contributor in many road accidents, therefore improved tyre safety could reduce the likelihood that tyres do not perform as they should, which minimises the risk to your family and other road users.

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