EU drivers at risk of under-inflated tyres

After having demonstrated in 2016 that indirect TPMS could be optimised to pass the regulatory test but fail to perform appropriately on the road, Transport & Environment (T&E) commissioned Dekra to carry out an independent on-road field survey to measure tyre pressure of about 1,000 cars in Italy and Portugal from random drivers.

Car tyre

First, Dekra’s results show a clear safety benefit of having tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) compared to the cars tested with no TPMS.

The field survey also shows that direct TPMS, which relies on sensors to measure pressure, works better than indirect TPMS, where software is used to estimate pressure, in the most dangerous situations for the drivers: by 27% for under-inflation of 0.5bar or more and by 40% for tyres under-inflated at 1.5bar or less. However, the benefits are not as pronounced as expected. The field survey points to the following conclusions. First, fitting tyre pressure monitoring systems makes a difference as far as tyre pressure and therefore driver safety are concerned, so the recent General Safety Regulation (GSR) proposal from the Commission which extends TPMS beyond cars to all other vehicles (e.g. vans, trucks and buses) should be supported. Second, neither of the systems today works to its full potential and there is scope for improvement. In the most unsafe situations, represented by the dark blue bars in the graph on the left, the safety of drivers of about 330,000 brand new cars sold last year is put at risk because both TPMS technologies do not work at their best in real-life conditions. This is why the GSR must include provisions to make TPMS work effectively on all tyres, including the replacement ones, and to include a safety net to eliminate incorrect calibrations of tyre pressure by drivers