When I took my driving test I remember there was a bit in the practical before you got in the car where you answered questions about the car itself. I remember saying to my instructor that the answers were stupid because my husband would end up dealing with that kind of stuff for me! Apparently that wasn’t a good enough answer but truth is I do rely on my husband to ensure that my oil and coolant levels are right and that my tyre pressure and tread are at the right levels. I never really stopped to think about how much this is my responsibility and that actually it was myself risking things if they were not right. Which could result in me losing my licence and a hefty fine. Also there is my family to consider – if my car isn’t safe then I risk something awful happening to them. When buying a car my husband and I research quite a lot about how safe each type is, and ensure we have the right car seats for each child dependent on their weight and height. I would never dream of driving off without my whole family being strapped in properly – so I have no idea why I do not think about making sure the rest of the car is okay!
Your car can have Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), which constantly monitor tyre pressures using tyre sensors in all four tyres – alerting the driver if there is any change in pressure or temperature (which it checks every few seconds) with a visual and/or audible warning indicator and the dashboard: This reduces the chance of a blow out or accident related to incorrect tyre pressures. All new cars from November 2014 come with TPM as standard – but you can have it fitted to older cars. Of course tyres are the only thing connecting the car with the road so they are really important. Did you realise that if the tread on your car isn’t at the 1.6 millimetres (across 75% of the tyre) then the penalty is up to £2,500 and 3 points on your licence PER TYRE! It is really easy to check with either a Tread Depth Gauge or even a 20p! The quality of the tyres can also affect the handling of the car – especially in emergency situations (have you ever had to brake outside a school because a child has gone in the road), wet weather situations and even what happens when your tyre bursts!
I still remember the incident when we were driving on a busy motorway and our tyre burst. It was a very scary experience as we were in the outside lane. We had all of our (then) three children in the car – which included a baby and it was late at night. Luckily, it was my husband driving and he managed to manoeuvre the car to the hard shoulder, where he changed the tyre. Now I do not know if you have ever broken down on a motorway but keeping children entertained and safe isn’t the most pleasant of experiences with cars flying by! We happened to have a blanket in the car, and the weather was kind to us. Did you know that 23% punctures happen at night – and a lot of them in the rain? I would hate to be standing on the hard shoulder alone with my children at night waiting for someone to come out, that wouldn’t make me feel very safe at all. Plus people can lose 3 hours to due to a punctured tyre – that is a lot of extra time on what was a one hour journey for us! As we were not there long it happened that nothing happened to go wrong whilst we waited – can you imagine if the children wet themselves or were sick on their clothes! It could have been a lot worse – plus it is not ideal to change a tyre on the hard shoulder – I wouldn’t know where to begin anyway! Or what if you ran over some glass or something which resulted in more than one tyre being burst – I am sure most people only carry a maximum of one spare tyre!
What is the solution to this dilemma? Well I was very kindly invited to Chateau Impney by Bridgestone to learn about their Driveguard Tyres. These are aimed at people with safety in mind because with supportive and tough reinforced sidewalls (with rubber compound), a high-tech cooling fin design, silica grip and Nano pro technology they allow control of the vehicle to be maintained after a puncture – and to continue to drive safely for 50 miles at up to miles an hour. Unlike previous run flat tyres they are more comfortable and accessible to all cars and do not need fitting as new – with the tyre fitting procedure being the same as conventional performance tyres. There are a variety of sizes available however the vehicle must have TPMS and some are excluded – particularly heavy vehicles (SUVs, minivans, vans and large cross-over utility vehicles). Driveguard tyres can be bought in pairs or sets of four; but a set of 4 Driveguard tyres must be fitted on the vehicle and not mixed with other tyres. I have to say that I was impressed. I drove around 3 times around a track (with tight corners for me) in which I was told to do an emergency stop each time around. First I went around with a car with Driveguard tyres and the second time with Driveguard tyres but the front left having a puncture. I actually went faster with the puncture than the first car (due to confidence with the course and handling of the car). I certainly could not feel that there was a puncture. Don’t worry though it does warn you on the dashboard! And (I would like to hope) that I would have noticed when the puncture was caused. I am very impressed and think that they are a great idea, especially for someone like me who could do with just continuing driving until I could get somewhere where someone could change the tyre for me.