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Opinions of Saturday, 18 June 2016

Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba

Making our roads safer, one car tyre at a time

Our roads have been turned into battlefields. Lawlessness reigns supreme. Lives and property are destroyed or lost without anyone losing sleep and the rains have as usual worsened a terrible situation. We are all aware that the story will remain the same unless we do things differently but we seem to be very comfortable in our current state.

What I am referring to as roads are in most places stretches of land where manholes and potholes compete for prominence. Sometimes mother luck smiles at us and we have strips of tarred areas reminding us that once upon a time there was a road or a semblance of a road there.

Imagine dodging these craters and competing with people totally drunk yet in charge of a steering wheel. Add a good dose of noise pollution from blarring horns and do not forget our car tyres and road (or is it battle-field) worthiness of our vehicles. It is extremely annoying when you have to spend hours to have your car checked to be certified as “road worthy” – which road are we referring to?

To remind us of the dangers during this rainy season that includes flooding, diarrhoeal diseases and road accidents, I spoke to Abenaa Antwiwaa Adusei (AA) who will tackle a vital part of our road safety that we so often take for granted. Abenaa practiced as a nurse for six years before pursuing an MSc in Occupational Hygiene, which in her opinion positions her to prevent injuries and ill-health rather than wait to see patients at the hospital.

KCE: I am glad you made valuable time to share vital information with our readers.

AA: Same here. Thank you and your readers for allowing me to share this with you.

KCE: You are extremely passionate about safety, what motivates you?

AA: The results of ignoring safety is always expensive, in terms of cost of compensation, repair/replacement, loss of corporate image, accidents, disability, loss of lives and properties. All these are most of the time easily preventable by observing safety rules, hence my extreme passion. The popular saying is that ‘prevention is better than cure’ and I totally agree; why cure at an expensive price when you can prevent with just a little!

KCE: Our roads could be described as death traps, dodging these holes has caused many accidents and people have been maimed or precious lives lost. What is your take on safety on our roads?
AA: Safety on our roads, indeed, leaves much to be desired. A lot is being done by the National Road Safety Commission to improve safety on our roads but there is more room for improvement. Almost everyone has lost a family member or a friend or knows someone who has been disabled through road accidents. So many factors come together to contribute to poor safety on our roads. Unfortunately, the next victim to poor road safety could be you or I.

KCE: You believe that beyond the poor roads, drunk drivers, poor sight etc., there is another major factor that makes life on our roads even more dangerous. Kindly enlighten us

AA: Generally, causes of road traffic accidents (RTA) have been grouped into 3 main components; the human factor, road/environment factor and the vehicle factor. Human factor deals with actions and inactions on the part of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and road safety law-enforcement personnel. Road/environment factors deals with the nature and designs of our roads, lighting systems, traffic calming measures, speed limits, pedestrian facilities etc. Vehicle factor takes a look at design/size of the vehicle, roadworthiness, braking system, tyres, restraints/seatbelts etc.

KCE: Which of the factors you have listed is in your opinion the most important?

AA: According to an approach called the Human – Environment - Vehicle Interface which looks at the percentage contribution of each of the factors as well as their combinations to RTA; human factor alone is said to contribute about 57%. This approach makes this factor most important but today we will take a critical look at the vehicular factors with specific emphasis on tyres.

KCE: What practical steps may be taken to ensure that our car tyres are much safer?

AA; i. Proper Inflation/Pressure: Maintaining proper air pressure is the single most important thing drivers can do for their tires. It is important to check air pressure regularly, to make sure tyres are neither under- nor over-inflated. One can find the correct tyre pressure for one’s vehicle in the operating manual and in most cases either under the fuel cap, on the inside of the door or glove compartment.

Under-inflation causes increased tread wear on the outside edges (or shoulders) of the tyre. It also generates excessive heat, which weakens components and reduces tyre durability. It reduces fuel economy by increasing rolling resistance – soft tyres make vehicles work harder.
Over-inflation is also detrimental to the tyre. Too much air pressure causes the center of the tread to bear the majority of the vehicle’s weight, which leads to faster and uneven wear. Any kind of uneven wear will shorten the lifespan of tyres.

ii. Balance & Alignment: This ensures the safety of the driver and the performance of the vehicle.

Unbalanced tyres cause road vibration, which leads to driver fatigue, premature tyre wear. Tyres should be balanced when they are mounted on wheels for the first time or when they are remounted after a repair. They should be rebalanced at the first sign of a vibration or shimmy, and should be balanced at least once a year, regardless. Proper alignment is necessary for even tread wear and precise steering.

iii. Regular Rotation: Regular rotation is necessary to maintain even tread wear.
There are several methods of rotation. For most vehicles on the road, tyres from the rear axle are moved to the drive axle and crossed to opposite sides of the vehicle. The tyres from the drive axle are moved to the rear, but remain on the same sides. This is known as the “modified X” pattern.
For four-wheel-drive vehicles, it is recommended to switch all four tires, both from side-to-side and in axle position.
iv. Visual Inspection/Tread Depth: Take a look at the treads for any sharp objects that may have punctured the tyres. Even if the puncture is not deep enough to flatten the tires immediately, the cracking and pitting caused by smaller punctures can eventually worsen and lead to problems down the road.
Look at the wear patterns on the treads as well. Excessive shoulder wear can indicate under-inflation, while wear to the center of the tread can mean over-inflation.

Tyres have tread wear indicator bars moulded into the tread. When the tread is worn down to where you can see a solid bar of rubber across the width of the tread, it is time to replace the tyre. Another method for checking tread depth is to place a coin (20 pesewa) in the tread groove, a tyre with a good tread depth should admit about half of the width of the coin.
Tyre pressure should be checked when the tyres are cold, at least once a month and before long journeys or when carrying heavy loads.
v. Repairs: It is important to know when to repair a tyre and when it should be replaced. If a tyre loses its air pressure, it must be removed from the wheel for a complete internal inspection to be sure it is not damaged.
Replacement of tyres: Tyre age is also crucial to safety on the road. Even though tyre life generally depends on service conditions and the environment in which tyres operate, some vehicle manufacturers recommend that tyres be replaced every four to six years regardless of use. Always, check the owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your vehicle.

Can you tell when your tyres were made? The date tyres were manufactured are indicated on the sidewall of the tyres in the form of four numbers usually preceded by the letters DOT. The four letters represents the week and year of manufacture. In most instances, there are 12 numbers after the DOT but the first four numbers are considered in identifying the age of the tyre. For example, DOT 1015 or DOT 1015 243/47R18 means 10th week of the year 2015.

KCE: Is there a slogan on Tyre Safety you would like to leave us with?

AA: Tyre Smartness Saves Lives, Play Your PART (P- Pressure, A- Alignment, R- Rotation, T-Tread)!
KCE: What are your final words on tyre safety?
AA: We all sit in cars, be it our own or as passengers. Cars move with tyres and the safety of tyres plays significant role in reaching our destinations in time, delayed, dead or alive. Hence, let us all be tyre safety conscious and always remember to play your PART in order to be tyre smart!
KCE: Thank you very much Abenaa. Almost everyone comes into contact with a car tyre on a daily basis and will find these tips extremely beneficial.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials Ltd
(dressel@healthclubsgh.com)

*Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Resource Person : Abenaa Antwiwaa Adusei
Her References:
1. Basic Tyre Fundamentals, GOOD YEAR PLUS, www.goodyearplus.com
2. ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=4988518
3. Rubber Manufacturers Association: http://ww.rma.org
4. The telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk
Abenaa may be reached on: awurabee@gmail.com or 020-852-1884