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UNDER PRESSURED; EXCLUSIVE Don't trust tyre gauges at petrol garages.. 40% of them are FAULTY.

Byline: By KATE MANSEY

FAULTY tyre gauges at petrol stations are putting the lives of thousands of drivers at risk.

A spot check on forecourts across the UK has revealed that FORTY PER CENT of pumps were either broken or giving out wrong readings.

There were nearly 1,000 accidents and 42 people were killed in 2006 by wrongly-inflated or defective tyres.

Now safety campaigners are calling for tighter regulations on pressure gauges.

Chris Wakely, of TyreSafe, said: "Severely under-inflated tyres can compromise safety. Garage and petrol station managers have a crucial role to play in providing an accurate and reliable service to motorists. These faults are putting their safety at risk."

Specialist calibration firm Caltec ATC and Auto Express magazine visited 82 filling stations across the UK. They found a "huge amount" of sites had pumps which filled tyres to the incorrect pressure. It ranged from one or two pounds per square inch (psi) to 14psi at one Tesco forecourt in Essex.

The worst area was South Gloucestershire, where two-thirds of air gauges had defects. Oxfordshire came second with 63 per cent of pumps damaged or giving out wrong readings.

Tyre gauges should be checked every three months but there is no legal obligation for filling stations to do it.

A spokesman for the Tyre Industry Council said: "A lot of these pumps don't work or are not accurate. But the forecourt operators may still charge anything up to 50p for air, blaming the cost on the expense of calibrating the equipment.""

Investigators found old-style analogue pressure gauges were the most inaccurate with 18 per cent giving wrong readings, compared to three per cent of new digital units.

HOW SAFE ARE YOU?

The percentage of tyre pumps with defects, including damage to equipment, incorrect readings or machinery out of order:

South Gloucestershire 66%

Oxfordshire 63%

London 58%

South Wales 50%

Southern Scotland 50%

West Sussex 50%

Hertfordshire 44%

North West 40%

Bedfordshire 33%

Surrey 29%

North East & Cumbria 20%

Midlands & Staffs 14%

Buckinghamshire 0%

Cambridgeshire 0%

CAPTION(S):

A tyre at the wrong pressure can be lethal
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 13, 2008
Words:348
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