Bridgestone conducted safety checks on over 29,000 cars in nineteen different countries in Europe over the past two years and found some pretty dramatic results. Over ninety percent of the cars checked had under-inflated tires. Of those, almost forty percent had at least one tire that was significantly under-inflated and twelve percent were in danger of tire failure.

Under-inflated tires are a serious safety risk as Bridgestone is well aware now after the Ford Explorer fiasco a few years back. But they also cause a major increase in rolling resistance, which increases fuel consumption. Bridgestone estimates that the forty percent of people with significantly low tires have 2.8 percent increase in fuel consumption, which amounts to 2.1 billion gallons of fuel every year. That also means an extra 18.4 million tons of CO2 are emitted every year or 6.9g/km for every car on the road in Europe. Just getting every tire inflated properly would go quite a way toward meeting CO2 reduction targets without even changing anything mechanically. Under-inflated tires also wear faster, meaning that people have to buy more tires and the old tires need to be disposed of. The Bridgestone press release is after the jump.

[Source: Bridgestone]
New results from "Think Before You Drive" safety checks show that
more than 90% of motorists drive on under inflated tyres

The consequences are dramatic: 93.5% of motorists in the EU are putting their safety at risk:. On top of that, they are throwing away the equivalent of 56 million tyres, adding 18 million tons of CO² to the environment and wasting €15 billion.

These are the conclusions from safety checks conducted on 20,300 passenger cars in 19 E.U. countries during 2006. Only 6.5% of motorists had all tyres correctly inflated, 54% had some degree of low inflation and 39.5% had at least one tyre significantly under inflated (<1.5 bar). 12.0% of cars (1 in 8) were in danger of tyre failure.

The free check-ups were conducted by Bridgestone at shopping centres and public car parks. They form part of the "Think Before You Drive" safety education campaign, a worldwide joint initiative between the FIA Foundation (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), Bridgestone Corporation and national motoring clubs, launched in 2005.

Under inflation puts safety at risk

These results suggest that many motorists are unaware that a tyre loses pressure naturally over time, like a balloon, and that driving on incorrect pressure can be dangerous. The loss of handling control and increase in vehicle drift rises sharply as tyre pressure is reduced. Low tyre pressure also has an extremely negative effect on tyre durability, due to excessive shear stress in the tyre shoulder and heat build-up from sidewall bending. The 12% of motorists identified with seriously low tyre pressure face possible tyre failure due to these factors.

Substantial loss of tyre wear

The effect of low pressure on tyre wear is no less dramatic: the wear life of a passenger car tyre is halved if pressure falls from 2.2 bars to 1.0 bar. Based on this 2006 survey, Bridgestone's Technical Centre Europe calculates that the almost 40% of motorists at risk are losing 19.3% of tyre wear life – an average of 9,700 km or 9 months of tyre usage (based on an average wear life of 50.000 km and annual mileage of 13.600 km). A further 54% of vehicles are losing 5.2% of tyre wear life; an average of 2,500 km or 2 months of tyre usage. Adding these two groups together shows that 24.5% of tyre wear is being lost through under-inflation in Europe.

Heavy environmental price of extra emissions

Inflation pressure has a strong influence on tyre rolling resistance, which is itself a key factor in determining vehicle fuel consumption. Depending on the type of road and driving style, rolling resistance represents 18% to 26% of the total force on a vehicle. Since low inflation increases rolling resistance, it has a direct effect on vehicle fuel efficiency and emissions.
Based on 2006 data, Bridgestone's Technical Centre Europe calculates that 40% of vehicles face increased fuel consumption of 2.8% due to under-inflation, wasting 8.1 billion litres of fuel costing €9.5 billion. Our environment pays the final price for burning this fuel unnecessarily, with an additional 18.4 million tons of C0² released into the atmosphere every year. That's the equivalent of an extra 93.2 kg of CO² a year, or 6.9 g/km, for every car on Europe's roads!

Bridgestone to continue tyre-care education in 2007

The "Think Before You Drive" campaign aims to promote safer driving behaviour by focusing on simple road safety messages, including tyre care, and highlighting actions that take only a few seconds, but could save a life. Activities in Europe include the distribution of road-safety advice leaflets, seat-belt crash simulators at Grand Prix F1 events and motor shows, and the distribution of millions of tyre gauges to measure tyre depth and pressure.

Bridgestone believes that these initiatives will help raise awareness of the importance of tyre care and plans to continue regular, free tyre safety check-ups during 2007. Marketing efforts will aim at convincing consumers that tyres should be a planned safety investment, rather than a sudden expense and that correct tyre care saves money and emissions – as well as lives. Of the 1.2 million road fatalities each year, 50,000 occur in the 25 member states of the European Union.

Facts and figures

1. Scope of the campaign

2005

8.700 vehicles checked



10
countries

2006

20.300 vehicles checked

19 countries


2. Key Results

Inflation

  • Only 6.5% of all vehicles had all 4 tyres correctly inflated
  • 12% (1 in 8) had at least one tyre significantly under inflated

Wear due to low inflation pressure

  • 40% of checked motorists suffered from unnecessary tyre wear
  • 25% of tyre wear is lost as a result of low inflation pressure

Consequences for the environment due to low inflation pressure

  • 56 mn tyres are lost because of premature wear
    of 5.0 bn €/year
  • 18-26% of the total force on a vehicle comes from the tyre rolling resistance
  • 40% of checked drivers face increased fuel consumption because of low Inflation pressure or
  • € 9.5 bn and 8.1 bn litres are being wasted.
    This adds another 18.4 mn tons of CO² emission

    That's the equivalent of an extra 93.2 kg of CO² a year, or 6.9 g/km, for every car on Europe's roads!



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