In advance of National Tire Safety Week (May 21-28), Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC offered reminders on the direct impact that correct tire inflation can have on truck and driver safety, as well as a fleet’s bottom line. Sponsored annually by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association, National Tire Safety Week is an initiative aimed at providing information on the essentials of proper tire care and maintenance.
“Checking the tire pressure is right up there with making sure there’s fuel in the tank,” said Jon Intagliata, Bendix product manager for Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems. “And it’s almost as vital to keep things running smoothly, safely, and efficiently: Underinflation by as little as 10 percent can reduce fuel economy by 1.5 percent; 20 percent underinflation cuts tire life by 30 percent — consequences shown by research of the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council.”
That means maintaining the correct tire pressure will make a big difference over the long haul, since fuel and tires tend to be among fleets’ largest expenses. Additionally, underinflated tires experience increased stress and generate higher running temperatures, compounding the risk of tire blowouts — about 90 percent of which are the result of underinflation, according to industry studies.
The Right Tools
As the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety and braking solutions for commercial vehicles, Bendix recognizes that circumstances and driving conditions can change moment-to-moment, and it’s not always the right place for an immediate spot check. A TPMS like the SmarTire Tire Pressure Monitoring System by Bendix CVS — or the SmarTire Trailer-Link TPMS by Bendix CVS for trailers — is the best tool for tracking proper psi on each tire and providing a driver with real-time information and pressure alerts. Data is transmitted wirelessly to a driver display in the cab and can also be read by a technician using a handheld tool if the vehicle is in the shop.
A system with a wheel-mounted sensor inside the tire — such as SmarTire — also allows the TPMS to continuously monitor temperature inside the tire, as well as pressure. This enables the system to provide a deviation value showing the amount of overinflation or underinflation from the tire’s cold inflation pressure (CIP), automatically taking into account any increase in pressure due to temperature and adjusting the system alerts as necessary. Reading temperature also helps the system alert the driver to potential wheel-end issues, such as dragging brakes, and may help the driver mitigate potential tire fires.
TPMS technologies also make it easier to ensure that both tires on a dual-tire wheel-end are equally pressurized: As little as a 5 psi difference between the two can create problems such as accelerated or irregular tire wear.
Armed with real-time tire status information, drivers and technicians can address problems before they become safety hazards. And tire inspections and maintenance become more efficient, without the need for manual pressure checks.
The safety system data can also help fleets running TPMS-equipped vehicles shape their tire strategy and maintenance plans when paired with a back-office system like SafetyDirect from Bendix CVS — a web portal that allows analysis of real-time information from TPMS and other connected safety technologies. With this information, fleets can plan vehicle service in advance, and better address issues such as frequent tire replacements, tire failures on the road, and tire repair downtime.
Making the Difference
“With today’s advanced brakes engineered to meet Reduced Stopping Distance requirements, and commercial vehicle manufacturers building vehicles with required full-stability technologies, trucks and buses already rely on tires in good condition running at proper inflation,” Intagliata said. “More fleets are adopting collision mitigation, and the industry is looking to more advancements in driver assistance that are dependent upon precise and controlled interaction between a driver, technology, and the road beneath — a huge part of that fleet safety equation comes down to the tires and the simple matter of proper pressure.”
Intagliata also noted that TPMS, like all Bendix safety technologies, complements safe driving practices. No commercial vehicle safety technology replaces a skilled, alert driver exercising safe driving techniques and proactive, comprehensive driver training. Responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle remains with the driver at all times.