There are now more than four million vans on Britain’s roads, 60% more than in 2000, ranging from business vans and couriers to mobile workshops.
These vans clock up over a billion miles a week, says tyre safety charity TyreSafe, which has launched a campaign focusing on van tyre safety.
Reminding drivers that ‘Britain works on tyres’, the charity emphasized the need to conduct regular checks and to consider how much load is being carried and avoid overloading.
Overloading is the most common offence identified at Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) roadside checks and can result in fines of over £800, TyreSafe warned. Overloading accounts for 70% of prohibition notices on LCVs — removing vans from the road.
According to GOV.UK, if a police officer or an officer from the DVSA identifies your vehicle as being overloaded you will be issued with an immediate prohibition notice and the vehicle may be immobilised. Officers can also direct the vehicle to somewhere nearby, where the load can be redistributed or removed.
Prohibition notices may also be handed out for roadworthiness of the vehicle, not following the rules for drivers’ hours, or when there is a problem with carrying dangerous goods.
Overloading makes a van unstable and puts extra stress on your tyres. The excess weight changes the tyre’s shape, leading to a build-up of heat when it’s being driven, TyreSafe explained. When that happens, the tyre can have a catastrophic failure.
Check your van’s handbook for its maximum permissible weight and the tyres’ appropriate load index. This is a two or three-digit code which relates to how much weight it can safely carry. You should always ensure your tyres have the right load index for the van.
Tyre pressure must also be correctly adjusted for the load. As well as being safer, this reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Last but not least, pay attention to the tyres’ tread and general condition. Potholes and bumps in the road can seriously damage tyres, so inspect each tyre for lumps and cuts and if you find anything out of the ordinary get it checked by a professional.
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