Getting a grip with your chauffeuring responsibilities

As professional chauffeurs we should all strive to be the best we possibly can, particularly in our highly competitive market.

What are the vital elements to being a professional chauffeur? How we present ourselves? A pristine vehicle? Our knowledge of the roads? All very important but not actually vital.

TheChauffeur.com Reporter Graham Carpenter explains all these qualities are essential, but do you put as much effort into the things that keep everyone safe?

We have four bits of rubber roughly the size and shape of a Highway Code (What’s that?!) attaching us to the planet. It matters not how many electronic safety features your vehicle is equipped with – ABS, AEB, ESC, ISA, ACC and alike or how good a driver you are!

If your tyres are defective in any way this will negate all the above and render you, the driver and possibly your company open to prosecution – it could also invalidate your insurance! This unwelcome advertising could also cause some very negative PR with possible loss of business.

When did you last check the tread depth on your tyres? What is the minimum tread depth? When did you check for cuts and tears on the wall of the tyres? (The front nearside is a good place to start!) Does somebody in the company do it for you? Remember you, the driver, are legally responsible.

If you do check your tyres, how often? How many miles have these tyres travelled? In the chauffeuring world its not unusual to travel 50,000+ miles per annum.

Tyre manufacturers suggest there is no way to tell exactly how long a tyre lasts. The lifespan and mileage of a tyre depends on a combination of factors: it’s design, the drivers’ habits, the climate, the road conditions and the care that’s put into the tyres. Although the legal minimum is 1.6mm, a tyre under 3mm can begin to lose its effectiveness so 3mm is my personal minimum.

The major point here is your vehicle is only as good as its tyres and the driver is responsible. If in any doubt then it takes minutes during a bit of waiting time to pop into a tyre company and have them checked out by a professional. Not only for piece of mind but in this litigious age to cover yourself as well.

I currently drive a Bentley Flying Spur W12 with 75,000 miles on the clock, which is on its third set of tyres (Pirelli P Zero’s). Although I can see the inflation pressures electronically I much prefer to check them myself and do so every week. A visual check before each journey is essential – looking for any cut’s or tears in the wall and for the general look of the tyre – this takes literally seconds!

Every two or three months I pop the vehicle into a tyre company, so the professionals can give them a health check too – free of charge! In fact, I have an arrangement with one company where for less than £100 they will check and, where necessary, adjust the geometrics eight times in two years.

The individual cost makes it a real bargain and keeps the tyres and alignment in tip-top condition over a significant period.

Driving habits – Speeding, quick starts and emergency braking, failure to notice a change in handling, noise or vibration and the quality of the tyre is a major factor in tyre wear.

Cheaper brands could wear out more quickly and do you or your company periodically rotate the front tyres, which for obvious reasons wear more quickly?

About the Author:

Graham Carpenter is a professional personal chauffeur and has previously worked with chauffeur companies as a chauffeur, controller, road safety manager and director of operations, giving him a truly holistic perspective of our profession.

As a road safety and advanced driving practitioner Graham has been training and key account manager at the RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents), National Business Manager at The Institute of Advanced Motorists and General Manager of Diamond Advanced Motorists, developing the Chauffeur training division of each of these organisations.

As an independent chauffeur, he has provided service to a major A list celebrity, senior military personnel and Government Ministers, including the training of drivers and chauffeurs in Downing Street.

Graham will shortly be publishing the first Chauffeur Manual of its kind based on his experience and best practice within our profession over the last 20+ years.

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