With almost 40% of Europeans ready to take or already on the road for the summer(1), Bridgestone wants to make sure that these road trips are both fun and safe for everyone by offering motorists a few tips and tricks to ensure a safe summer journey to all! Specifically when it comes to tyres as they are, in fact, the only safety system of the car that touches the road.
European travel habits
According to studies carried out by Stena Line this year(1), around 40% of Europeans are planning on taking a summer road trip for their holidays, especially the French (66%), Polish (60%) and German (58%)! The main reason for taking a road trip for all these adventurers is that travelling by car gives more freedom and flexibility, as stated by 75% of them.
And where do they travel? Favorites are Germany, France and Italy, but most travelers will actually take road trips to their neighboring countries as preferred destinations. And 72% will take the trip with their significant other as preferred roadie partner, vs. 1% who would want to take it with their mother-in-law(2)!
While most Europeans don’t seem to argue during a road trip, it still seems that the driving speed and itinerary are the two main topics of discord in a car during long drives. The main hurdle to overcome for 22% of travelers is fitting everything into the car… but without forgetting their sunglasses, which is the most important item to bring along for almost 60% of summer travelers!
But before setting out on a road trip, Europeans like to know where they are going and making sure their vehicle can take them there safely! Indeed, 64% consider that checking the itinerary is the most important thing to do before leaving on a summer road trip, followed closely by checking that your car is in good shape before taking the road (62%).
Checking your car before departure is indeed essential. According to tyre safety checks carried out by Bridgestone(3), 78% of European drivers drive on at least one underinflated tyres while 57% of tyres are changed after legal limit of 1,6 mm was reached in the UK(4), 21% of French drivers drive on tyres worn to 1.6mm or less… and still decided to postpone changing their tyres(5)! In Spain, 75% of traffic accidents caused by tyres were on second hand tyres(6). These are all issues that can lead to safety issues as well as overconsumption of fuel and premature wear.
This is where Bridgestone comes into play and can give you some recommendations to take the road safely and go on your summer road trip with full peace of mind!
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Checking your tyres
Safety on the road starts with fitting proper tyres, adapted to the season. Continuing on winter tyres in summer can increase stopping distances by up to 30%(7).
Equally important is to apply the correct tyre pressure: under-inflated tyres not only compromise your ability to brake and manoeuvre safely, they also consume more fuel and wear out faster. The pressure should be checked on cold tyres as hot air expands and may result in inaccurate values. Information on the recommended values can be found in the operating manual, on the inside of the door pillars or under your fuel cap. You should also bear in mind that if your vehicle is fully loaded, you will need to increase the tyre pressure.
The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6 mm. The easiest way of determining the depth is by using a special tread gauge, or the built-in tread wear indicator on your tyres. If the tread markers positioned transversely to the running direction are level with the tyre, it is time to replace the tyre. Here’s a tip: insert a 1 Euro coin in the tread; if you can see the yellow border, it’s time to change your tyres!
Also be sure to check for scratches, cuts and other minor damage to the tyres. The high loads during holiday journeys combined with heat and low inflation pressure could result in a blow out and thus a potential loss of steering control. Special attention should be paid to caravan, camper and trailer tyres, especially if they have not been used for a while.
A look under the hood
Before departure, it is also recommended to take a look under the hood to check the oil, coolant liquid and windscreen wash levels. With the engine cold, oil and coolant levels should be between the minimum and maximum marks. During summer holidays, a special cleaning additive that also removes insects from the windscreen should be added to the windscreen wash fluid. For a clear view you should also check your wiper blades: if they leave streaks on the windscreen or are no longer making proper contact with your windscreen and should be replaced.
Let there be light
Are your turn signal lights, brake lights and headlights in working order? These can be checked by asking someone to walk around the car as you turn lights on one by one. This is especially important when travelling to countries where daylight running lights are compulsory, such as Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. If your vehicle's lighting is defective, you may face a fine.
Well equipped for any situation
The standard safety equipment for any car travel includes a warning triangle, first aid box and high visibility vests. Before departure, you should check the expiration date of the first aid kit and the number of high visibility vests. In many countries you need to carry high visibility vests for all passengers or other mandatory items. If you don't, you risk getting fined... again!
These small standard checks allow you to easily and simply prep your car for your holiday road trip. This not only reduces unnecessary stress but also prevents breakdowns. It is important: not to wait until the night before your journey to check your vehicle. If you need spare parts or even new tyres, this may take some time.
For more holiday tyre safety tips, visit your local Bridgestone dealer or visit www.tyresafety.eu.
For other ideas and tips, visit www.bridgestone.co.uk/auto/your-journey/tyre-safety/.
(1) Stena Line, The Car Holiday Report 2015 http://www.mynewsdesk.com/se/stena_line/documents
(2) 2013 Bridgestone Been everywhere survey carried out by OnePoll from 25-27th June 2013. It involved 3,000 people who regularly drive long distances – 500 each from France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK.
(3) Figures from 2012 based on 28.000 tyre safety checks carried out by Bridgestone http://www.bridgestone.eu/corporate/press-releases/2013/04/european-drivers-increasingly-negligent-about-the-maintenance-of-their-tyres/
(4) Internal statistics Micheldever – sample 39,676 tyres, 2014
(5) GIPA 2012
(6) DGT (General Traffic Department) 2014
(7) To see for yourself the difference in performance between summer and winter tyres, have a look at the following videos:
Dry braking – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gang-svyxU4
Wet braking – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2rT2QDHUOs
Slalom – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8KSSTBiD7E