Fact-check: Incorrect tyre pressure leads to accidents on Pakistan’s motorways?
While it is true that an increase or decrease in temperature has a direct impact on the air pressure of tyres, there is no ideal or set standard for pressure
Updated Monday Aug 28 2023
A video shared in multiple social media posts claims that tyre bursting is the main reason for accidents on motorways in Pakistan in the summers and all vehicles should inflate their tyres to 25 pounds per square inch (PSI), a standard followed in developed countries.
The claim is misleading.
On August 11, a Facebook user shared a three-minute-video with the caption: “These precautions can save your life during travel. Do not miss this video.”
The narrator then claimed that many people were losing their lives due to tyres bursting on the motorway, adding that heat in the summers raises the air pressure in tyres.
The narrator also alleged that as per international standards, and in developed countries, all vehicles are recommended to inflate their tyres to 25 pounds per square inch (PSI) or 28 PSI.
“People in Pakistan don’t know this and they over-inflate the tyres to save fuel,” the video claimed.
The video has been viewed 4.3 million times, to date, and liked 100,000 times on Facebook.
The same clip was also posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, alongside the caption: “The real reasons for tyres bursting on the motorways and highways.”
This video too has been viewed over 43,000 times and reposted 551 times.
While it is true that an increase or decrease in temperature has a direct impact on the air pressure of tyres, there is no ideal or set standard for pressure, as it varies based on a vehicle’s make, say motorway police officials and a road safety expert.
Thus, it is incorrect to suggest that all cars and vehicles should inflate tyres to 25 to 28 pounds per square inch (PSI) in order to avoid accidents on the motorway.
“It [the claim] is partially. It is true that when the temperature rises the pressure inside tyres also increases,” Dr. Omer Masood Qureshi, the chief consultant scientist at the Islamabad-based Automotive Design and Crashworthiness Research, told Geo Fact Check via phone. However, Qureshi added that tyres burst in the country for other reasons.
These include the quality of tyres, some are smuggled and in the process damaged, or because old or second-hand tyres are sold in the market, or due to fitting the wrong tyre to a vehicle, he explained.
Saqib Hussain, the superintendent of motorway police, also agreed with Qureshi.
“Of course, in the summers the air [pressure] in car tyres expands,” Hussain told Geo Fact Check, over the phone. But he rubbished the claim that all cars need to have one PSI — therefore 25 to 28 PSI.
The correct air pressure varies depending on the type of vehicle, Hussain went on.
Geo Fact Check then reached out to Musab Bukhari, a senior officer of the national highway and motorway police.
“This may be the personal opinion and experience of the person who made this video,” Bukhari told to Geo Fact Check over the phone, “But it is not the standard. The age of a tyre is one major cause of accidents on the highways in Pakistan.”
Bukhari added that in his experience the rubber of a tyre becomes more prone to accidents after five years.
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