A study by tire manufacturer Continental found that 34% of commercial drivers regularly drive on underinflated tyres. This is a troubling statistic, especially given that driving on underinflated tyres can significantly worsen your fuel economy as well as increase drivers’ stopping distances.
Ensuring that fleet drivers keep their tyres inflated needs to be a collaborative effort between company policymakers, fleet managers, and drivers themselves. We will go through how these three forces can come together to ensure that a company’s vehicles are always running on fully inflated tyres.
Setting out your stall when onboarding drivers
Although new driver onboarding often has procedures that touch upon road safety and ways that drivers should conduct themselves in order to represent their employers while on the road, tyre safety is rarely addressed.
In order to drum home the importance of tyre safety to new hires, your onboarding should include information on:
The consequences of driving on underinflated tyres
How often tyre pressure should be measured and how to inflate tyres
The ways your company will support your drivers in ensuring that they drive on fully inflated tyres
How regularly your company will check the tyre pressure of your driver’s vehicles and what the internal consequences are for driving on under inflated tyres.
In short, new drivers should be made aware from the start of their working for you that they are expected to keep their tyres at optimal inflation at all times, and that you will both support them in achieving this and that failure to do so will have consequences.
Giving drivers the tools to ensure that they keep their tyres inflated
The steps that you need to take to make sure your tyres are always at an optimal inflation is simple, but tedious and easy to overlook. Drivers who fail to do this usually do so simply out of forgetfulness.
Therefore, fleet companies and managers should reduce any friction that stands between drivers and the actions required to keep their tires inflated. Some of the ways that fleet companies can do this include:
Giving drivers free tire pressure gauges
Keeping copies of maps of petrol stations that have air pumps and giving copies of this to drivers
Sending out monthly email blasts reminding drivers to check their tire pressure
Have drivers complete checklists to show that they have followed tyre safety best practices
Fleet companies should shoulder some of the responsibility when it comes to the safety of their drivers. At the same time, drivers themselves are best placed to ensure that their vehicles’ tyres are in a roadworthy condition.
Fleet companies should therefore incentivize their drivers to take care of their tyres. One way of doing this is for drivers to keep monthly checklists of all the things that they need to do to check and maintain their tyres’ condition.
Companies can run schemes where if drivers complete these checklists fully every month for a period of time (a year for example) they earn some sort of reward. In almost all cases, any costs incurred in running this will be made back by improvements in fuel economy due to drivers constantly driving on fully inflated tyres.
Have a set of guidelines and procedures that penalize drivers who fail to take tyre safety seriously
As well as rewarding drivers who proactively take care of their tyres, fleet managers should also punish drivers who fail to do this. Keeping records of the actions that your drivers take to keep their tyres inflated allows you to take both a carrot and stick approach in ensuring that tyre safety is adhered to, and companies should utilise both of these types of strategy.
Some of the ways that fleet companies can punish drivers that fail to take care of their tyres include:
Additional mandatory safety training
Official warnings that stay on an employee record
Given lower priorities for overtime opportunities
A system that utilises both incentives and punishments should motivate drivers enough that these penalties should rarely be handed out.
Given the importance of tyre inflation on overall vehicle safety, fleet companies should have proper procedures in place to ensure that their drivers take accountability in keeping their tyres in optimal condition.
The best way of doing this is an approach that simultaneously rewards safe tyre practices and which punishes drivers who fail to routinely inspect and inflate their tyres.
This article was contributed by Mike Skoropad. Mike is the Owner and Head Technician of tire retailer United Tires.