Irish motorists are being warned they would now be liable to incur points on their licence if their tyres are either under or overinflated.
Following an analysis of the penalty points issued to Irish drivers during 2017 carried out by Continental Tyres in Ireland, the research has shown that for the first time since penalty points were introduced in 2002, a driver was given two penalty points for having incorrect tyre pressure.
The penalty point offence in question, ‘unsuitable tyre due to degree of inflation’, was one of a raft of new tyre-related penalty point offences that were introduced in April 2016 by then Minister for Transport Paschal Donohue. However, the first allocation of penalty points under this measure was made during July 2017. The analysis was carried out as part of Continental Tyre Group’s commitment to its Vision Zero strategy, a long-term commitment to reduce accidents through tyre technologies and innovative automotive systems.
Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland says Irish motorists need to realise that incorrect tyre inflation does not only have important safety implications for vehicle performance, but penalty points can be issued if tyres are either over or under-inflated.
“This is very worrying as we know from previous surveys we have carried out that Irish motorists are very lax when it comes to looking after their tyres," he says. " In one of our surveys, we found only one in 10 female motorists regularly check their tyres, while the figure for male drivers was a slightly more respectable 23 per cent. Both figures, however, show the vast majority of motorists pay scant regard to their tyres, a car’s only contact with the road. And now, that disregard could cost them penalty points if their tyres are found to be unsafe due to over or underinflation.”
Driving a car with overinflated tyres will have a negative impact on driving comfort, the directional stability of the car and the car’s overall handling behaviour, especially when cornering at speed. Driving a car with under inflated tyres will have a serious negative impact on the car’s steering and overall handling with the risk of tyres dislodging from the rim and higher fuel consumption. In both situations (over or underinflated ) there could be significant irregular wear of the tyre which over time will reduce the tyre’s performance.
Independent UK tyre safety agency, Tyre Safe, has calculated a tyre with just 20 per cent under-inflation means the effective life of that tyre will be reduced by 25 per cent. That means a tyre with a normal effective life of four years need to be replaced before three years if underinflated - if the tyre did not suffer excessive damage before that stage. Tyre Safe has estimated underinflated tyres could cost an individual motorist a minimum of an extra €50 per year in fuel and that figure would rise significantly for seriously underinflated tyres that are doing above average mileage.
Details of correct tyre pressures can normally be found in a vehicle’s manual, on the driver’s doorpost, or in the fuel inlet compartment.
Mr Dennigan added: “It can literally only take a couple of minutes to check your tyres so we are encouraging all motorists to do this more regularly. With regard to checking the pressure of a tyre, motorists can easily purchase a tyre pressure gauge, but the easiest option is the air pump at a local garage.
"It is true some outlets now charge to use the air pump and pressure gauge,but I would contend it is worth the very minimal cost, in particular when considering the ongoing cost implications of driving with incorrect pressures, not to mention the cost of penalty points. That small fee guarantees drivers have efficiently maintained and calibrated equipment that will ensure their vehicle continues to run safely and efficiently and, just as importantly, that they stay the right side of the law in relation to tyre pressures.”