Teaching About the New EU Tire Labelling System on Driving Lessons
The number system molded onto the side wall tire can seem quite complicated and not many drivers fully understand it. Reading from left to right after the manufacturers name we have the letter P meaning passenger tire followed by the width of the tire in millimeters and the ratio of height to width. This is quite technical information and not much use to drivers or for teaching purposes as it would just come across as irrelevant and lead to learners switching off and wondering what the instructor is talking about . The following letter describes whether the tire is radial or cross ply. The letter R means radial and if this letter is omitted then it is cross ply. This is good to know as there are differences between the two regarding the flexibility of the tire walls, radial are much more flexible than cross ply. They should not be mixed on the same axle, though the vast majority of tires for cars are radial so there is much less danger of this happening nowadays. The next set of numbers relate to the top speed and maximum load of the tire followed by the M+S mud and snow markings.
Winter driving conditions are becoming more severe in the UK with heavy snowfall a common feature. This last piece of tire information is good to share with pupils as the sale of snow tires increases with stocks running low at tire dealers. Driving Instructors may need to take snow tires into account if they wish to continue regular lessons during snowy or icy conditions. Tests will inevitably be cancelled but instructors can use the adverse weather as an opportunity to teach if they have the correct tires fitted.
The new EU tire labeling regulations make things much clearer for the consumer. Instead of just the technical information on the tire wall the new label give more useful information on fuel efficiency, wet weather capability and external noise level which is worth teaching on driving lessons. Fuel efficiency and wet weather capability are both rated on a scale of A to G with A being the optimum. This allows motorists to choose a tire which may cost more at the point of purchase but may save money in the long run and help the environment. Safety can also be considered by taking into account the wet weather rating. An A rated tire will stop a lot quicker in the wet than a G rated tire. The final measurement gives the external noise level and how it compare with future noise level regulations. The more waves on the diagram, the noisier the tire.
Driving Instructors could easily incorporate this new information into the show me tell me questions required for the driving test. It would add interest to the question session as it is genuinely useful information they probably would not hear if learning with family and friends. It is up to driving instructors as professionals to keep up to date with the latest driver knowledge and deliver it in lessons as part of teaching safer driving for life.