Press release

Free tyre checks at fire charity car wash

Firefighters and Highways England staff have joined forces in a ground-breaking partnership to help reduce injuries and congestion on the North West's roads.

Image of smart motorways

In a national project being trialled in the North West, Highways England is working with fire and rescue services to offer free tyre safety checks and advice alongside a long-running programme of fire station charity car washes. As part of the pilot project, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and The Fire Fighters Charity have allowed Highways England traffic officers and other staff to run the tyre checking service at several car wash events – with the latest at Lancashire’s Fulwood fire station on Saturday (14 April).

Highways England is working to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on England’s motorways and major A roads by 40 percent by 2020 and says focusing on tyre safety will make an important contribution. The tie-up with firefighters and the established charity car wash events is seen as a friendly and informal way of reaching drivers to spread the tyre safety message.

Traffic officer checking a tyre
Highways England traffic officer Neil Waring, from Knutsford outstation, checking car tyres at one of Cheshire's charity car wash events last month

Stuart Lovatt, Highways England’s Road Safety Lead, said:

Highways England and fire and rescue services have a mutual interest in reducing the number of incidents caused by poorly-inflated or damaged tyres which could be picked up by simple and regular checks. The Fire Fighters Charity’s National Car Wash programme is now huge – involving some 20,000 vehicles across more than 600 events annually. We think it’s a great way of reaching out to potentially thousands of drivers to check their tyres for free and give them safety advice while they wait for their cars to be washed.

The feedback from the first 2 events we’ve run at Frodsham and Ellesmere Port fire stations last month has been really positive and after Saturday’s visit to Fulwood we’ll be assessing whether we can extend the idea right across the country.

Firefighters are among the emergency service workers called out to tyre-related incidents on the motorway and major A road network while Highways England traffic officers and colleagues have to manage the congestion caused by breakdowns, punctures and road traffic collisions. Statistics show:

  • there were 80,000 tyre incidents on England’s network of motorways and major A roads between 2013 and 2015
  • Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was called out to over 4,500 vehicle incidents between 2015 and 2017
  • Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service was called out to 2,866 vehicle incidents over the same period
  • 27% of vehicles have at least one illegal tyre (Tyresafe 2016)
  • 40% of road traffic accidents caused by vehicle defects are tyre related (DfT 2015)
Hi-tech scanning device checking tyres
Hi-tech scanners are being used to carry out the free tread and pressure checks

Tony Crook, an Area Manager at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

We attend over a thousand road traffic collisions each year and some of these could have been prevented if the vehicles involved were fitted with legal tyres.

Our firefighters see first-hand the dangers of driving poorly-maintained vehicles and we hope that this new partnership with Highways England will result in preventing crashes and even saving lives.

Watch Manager Andy Gray, a Road Safety Officer at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

Tyre treads are designed to give good grip on wet roads. As the tread wears down the tyre loses the ability of good grip. It is essential that people regularly check their tyres. Many tyres only get checked at their yearly MOT inspection and then subsequently fail, resulting in a vehicle that could well have been driving with unsafe tyres for some time.

This partnership not only benefits people immediately with the tyre checks but crews will show and educate them on how to check their tyres in the future. The Fire Fighters Charity also benefits from the public’s kind donations from the car wash events. These are positive events where you can meet multiple partners who want to engage with you and help keep you safe on the roads.

Drivers attending Saturday’s car wash event can get a free hi-tech check of their tyres from 3D tyre tread checking scanners linked to an app on a smart device. The scanners allow a quick and easy way to check tyre tread levels and provide instant feedback and advice to motorists, via a print out.

More information about the Fire Fighters Charity can be found on their website.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 10 April 2018