Debris study nails the need for yard inspections

Damaged tyres debris

Thousands of punctures on motorways across England can be prevented in a matter of minutes if operators took the time to check their yards for bolts, nails and screws, according to a new study.

Tyre maker Bridgestone have revealed the results of a two-year study into debris-related punctures across five of its biggest fleet customers in England.

Utilising overhead satellite heat maps and painstaking daily checks, Bridgestone discovered 504 items of debris across the five sites – 200 of which were ‘medium to high risk’ hazards and were the potential sources of puncture related tyre removals thereafter.

Bridgestone reckons its Fleet Debris Study is the first of its kind to ever be compiled and follows on from its 2018 Tyre Debris Study Report.

The presence of 102 high-risk and 98 medium-risk items of debris in this research validates the findings of the 2018 report, which found 56% of the tyres analysed had failed due to road hazards including penetrations due to sharp objects.

In light of this, Bridgestone is urging operators to utilise magnetic road sweepers, driver walk-around checks and daily visual inspections of their yards to significantly reduce the risk of costly punctures.

Tellingly, the depots that didn’t use a road sweeper as part of their housekeeping practices had the highest number of debris collected.

The highest amount of debris accumulated across the five fleets were in the vehicle washing areas, which could be the result of parts becoming dislodged as vehicles were being washed.

Considerable debris was also found in loading and unloading bays, which Bridgestone saids could be the result of drivers sweeping debris off their vehicles.

“We’re extremely proud of this study, as it gives the biggest insight yet into the risks that are present on forecourts every single day,” said Bridgestone’s north region technical manager, Gary Powell.

“The aim was to determine the amount of debris present in fleet depots and to ascertain the risk and we believe we have a body of work that removes any ambiguity when it comes to commercial fleet yard management.

“Higher amounts of debris collected at some of the depots inspected could be attributed to the lack of good housekeeping and tyre husbandry practices. It was noted depots which employed a road-sweeper were successful at significantly reducing the amount of debris – and specifically high-risk debris items like bolts and nails.”

The latest figures (for 2021) reveal there were 1759 personal injury collisions recorded, of which 491 were because of defective or illegal tyres (IAAF, 2023).

Reported Road Casualties GB report also show 21 people died as a result of being involved in incidents where vehicle defects were identified as contributing factors.

In total, 418 people were killed or seriously injured because of incidents where vehicle defects were identified. Of those, 111 were due to tyres alone, according to DfT figures for 2022.

Mark Cartwright, head of commercial vehicle incident prevention at National Highways, added: “Just as charity starts at home then puncture prevention also clearly starts at the yard!

“This report is so valuable in drawing the attention of truck and van operators and owners to their responsibilities in ensuring they aren’t damaging their tyres before joining our roads.

“We would strongly encourage operators to ensure their tyre damage isn’t self-inflicted,” he concluded.