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Embracing this technology is especially important for US roads; a report from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revealed that 26% of cars and 29% of trucks in the US have at least one significantly under-inflated tire.

Tire under-inflation is a globally recognized issue threatening the safety of roads and drivers alike. Poor tire maintenance is responsible for 41 deaths on American roads every year. Aside from the obvious safety implications, poor tire pressure can also hit drivers in the wallet – with under-inflation of just 20% adding more than 5% to annual fuel bills.

From driverless cars to Qualcomm in trucks, the prospect of automation is presenting the highways sector with some very exciting opportunities.

The case for automation when used to improve safety efficiency is clear. Trials conducted by research teams across the world demonstrate that automation can help save fuel, save money and reduce the likelihood of human error.

While the prospect of a fully ‘intelligent’ highways network and driverless trucks is clearly a long way off, motorists and transport operators should be thinking now of how they can incorporate automated technology into their tire pressure monitoring processes to enhance safety and reduce costs.

Taking tire pressure seriously

A trial on the M6 motorway in the UK, run in partnership with Highways England, measured more than 155,000 tire pressures. The trial was part of a year-long study into driver attitudes and tire pressure awareness levels among car and commercial vehicle drivers in the UK.

WheelRight’s automated TPMS provides motorists and truck drivers with a viable solution to the headache of regular tire pressure checks by providing them with an automatic ‘drive-over’ solution that generates tangible, easy-to-read, accurate information on their tire pressures.

WheelRight’s data, collated from the thousands of pressure readings taken during the course of the pilot, found that trucks are typically running with at least one under-inflated tire at any one time. The study also found that more than a quarter of Britain’s cars have at least one tire that is dangerously under-inflated.

From this we can conclude that similar levels of under inflation also exist on European and US roads, with around 15.5 million trucks in the US having at least one under-inflated tire.

According to the results of the survey, female drivers under 25 are most at risk of an accident caused by under-inflated tire pressure. Male drivers under the age of 25 were also highlighted as an ‘at risk’ group with young men behind the wheel 50% more likely than older motorists to have a significantly under-inflated tire.

Keele Services in Staffordshire, England was selected to host the tire pressure pilot because Highways England figures show that this area of the M6 motorway is prone to tire-related breakdowns and incidents.

Finding a solution

Thousands of visiting drivers are now on the road to better tire pressures, with 10% of motorists returning for repeat readings from the system during the pilot’s nine month duration.

WheelRight is also now in discussion with parties in the UK, continental Europe and the USA, who are interested in adopting the tire pressure monitoring technology.

Manual methods of checking tire pressures can be costly, inaccurate and time consuming. This instrument provides a convenient solution for fleets and commercial vehicle operators to gain an instant tire pressure reading, vehicles simply drive over the embedded WheelRight instrument and take a free print-out which immediately reveals the state of each tire. Alternatively, the real-time pressure reading can be sent to the driver’s mobile phone or fleet manager’s computer within seconds.

A vision for tire safety

Our long-term vision for the future is to see every vehicle on European roads, be they trucks or private cars, driving with properly inflated tires.

Looking ahead, driver and industry confidence are vital to ensure a successful roll-out of the technology. The signs are there that the European truck sector is looking to embrace automated tire pressure technology, especially when it does not require installing any equipment on the vehicle and works for every vehicle (car, bus or truck) that drive over.

We believe that the system provides operators with a solution to the recurrent issue of regular tire pressure checks. The drive-over function means fleet operators don’t have to worry about installing costly technology into each of their vehicles, and the ease-of-use of the system means that tire pressures can be checked every day – providing truckers and operators alike with vital peace of mind.

Regular tire pressure checks offer significant safety and cost benefits to truck drivers and operators. With more and more of the industry seeking to adopt automated processes, embracing an innovative approach to tire pressure management makes sound commercial sense.

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