Almost three-quarters of motorway incidents related to tyre failure could be prevented by drivers carrying out simple checks, according to research by Highways England and tyre company Bridgestone.

More than 30 people were killed or seriously injured in motorway accidents in 2016 due to illegal or faulty tyres, but an 18-month study found that drivers could do a lot more to help reduce accidents.

The research involved analysing samples from tyres that had failed and found that almost three quarters involved poor inflation or debris penetration issues – problems that could be potentially avoided by regular checking.

Of the tyres analysed, 56% were found to have failed due to penetration by debris, 18% due to poor inflation, 8% due to poor vehicle maintenance, 1% due to manufacturing defects and 1% due to excessive heat, while the other 16% could not be attributed to one particular problem.

Highways England head of road safety Richard Leonard said: “England’s motorways are the safest in the world but we’re determined to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on them.

“This important research confirms our view that road users must play a bigger role and get into the habit of checking tyre pressures and tread depths, and looking out for nails and other debris stuck in tyres before setting out on journeys. These simple checks could save lives.” 

Bridgestone technical manager Gary Powell said: “This report has taken a great deal of time and effort, involving a painstaking process of collecting tyre debris over 18 months and analysing it in depth thereafter.

“In conclusion, some simple tyre checks can save lives, not to mention reduce the risk of a stressful breakdown on a motorway.

“With proper vehicle inspection and maintenance programmes, many of the failure methods noted should be detectable and preventable. 

“In light of these results, we would also advise that tyre pressure monitoring systems are fitted to vehicles which don’t benefit from this technology already. It will assist with the detection of penetrations and deflations.”