Bridgestone, a multinational auto and truck parts manufacturer, conducted a two-year Fleet Debris Study, which found that bolts, nails, and screws left in yards were the main sources of punctures that result in tyre removals. The study was conducted among five of Bridgestone’s biggest fleet customers in England, using overhead satellite heat maps and daily checks, to identify 504 items of debris across the five sites. Out of those, 200 were categorised as “medium to high risk” hazards that can lead to puncture-related tyre removals.
This study is the first of its kind, according to Bridgestone, and demonstrates the company’s leadership in data-driven insight and support. The Fleet Debris Study was a follow-up to the 2018 Tyre Debris Study Report, which found that 56% of the analysed tyres failed due to road hazards, including sharp objects that penetrated the tyres.
The study revealed that depots that did not use a road sweeper as part of their housekeeping practices had the highest number of debris collected. The highest amount of debris accumulated across the five fleets were in the vehicle washing areas, which could be the result of parts becoming dislodged as vehicles were being washed. Considerable debris was also found in loading and unloading bays, which Bridgestone believes could be the result of drivers sweeping debris off their vehicles.
Gary Powell, Bridgestone’s north region technical manager, headed-up the Fleet Debris Study and hoped the findings would prompt commercial fleets to implement some simple inspection measures to keep their drivers safe and make significant savings in terms of expense and time. He suggested the use of magnetic road sweepers, driver walk-around checks, and daily visual inspections of yards to significantly reduce the risk of costly punctures.
Bridgestone’s Fleet Debris Study is part of the company’s broader corporate commitment, The Bridgestone E8 Commitment, that defines the value the company is promising to deliver to society, customers, and future generations in eight focus areas, including road safety.
The study findings highlight the importance of puncture prevention, particularly in the context of commercial fleets, given the potential impact on productivity, safety, and costs. According to the latest figures for 2021, there were 1,759 personal injury collisions recorded, of which 491 were because of defective or illegal tyres. The Department for Transport (DfT) in 2022 also reported that 111 people were killed or seriously injured because of incidents where vehicle defects were identified, and 21 people died as a result of being involved in incidents where vehicle defects were identified as contributing factors.
Mark Cartwright, head of commercial vehicle incident Prevention at National Highways, emphasised the importance of puncture prevention and encouraged operators to ensure their tyre damage isn’t self-inflicted. He said, “Just as charity starts at home then puncture prevention also clearly starts at the yard. This report is so valuable in drawing the attention of truck and van operators and owners to their responsibilities in ensuring they aren’t damaging their tyres before joining our roads.”