Lack of Consumer Education Contributes to a Degree of Road Accidents
“Contributing to accidents are worn tyres, brakes and shock absorbers. While drivers are able to physically look at their tyres and see the tyre wear or when breaking, feel that their brakes need changing, shock absorbers are another matter. Drivers generally don’t know how to tell when their shocks are worn,” says Graeme Futter, Head of Marketing and Sales at Gabriel South Africa.
Research conducted by Gabriel SA reveals that consumers are confused about shock absorbers.
“End-user research results indicates evidence of product and brand erosion. Contributing to this are the low levels of innovation and channel development from manufacturers and suppliers,” says Futter.
In the research, 35% of the consumers interviewed did not know the brand of shocks on their vehicle and 80% of end-users emphasised the influence that the retail sales staff have on recommending when to check and replace shocks.
There was a high level of‘lack of information’about shocks and the importance of how the shock affects the vehicle’s ride, performance and safety. Knowledge of brakes was much higher at 67%, tyres at 25% and shocks only at 6%.
The absence of a generally accepted wear-and-tear measurement was evident. An example of this is the time period or the number of kilometres between shock replacement.
“The findings only support what we at Gabriel already know, that there is a clear need for better retail sales training and consumer education to allow the vehicle owner to make a sound, informed choice of the brand of shock absorber being recommended and purchased. At what point does price compromise the safety of your loved ones, make the informed choice, fit Gabriel!”
In South Africa it is estimated that 50% of cars older than five years on the road have worn shock absorbers. But drivers are not aware of this because they gradually adjust their driving to compensate for the extra roll or bounce.
“Worn shock absorbers dramatically increase the risk of an accident. A vehicle with worn shocks becomes difficult to control in an emergency situation,” he says.
“As with many road safety campaigns, government needs private sector support. The high number of deaths on our roads are unacceptable,” says Futter.
“In the case of shock absorbers, drivers need to have their shocks tested at least every six months.”
The average age of vehicles on South African roads is more than 12 years, and shocks become less effective after about three years. Generally, shocks should be changed every 80 000 to 100 000 km.
“Worn shocks won’t keep your wheels glued to the road, no matter how new your tyres are. A worn shock absorber will cause the tyre to bounce creating worn or bald spots,” he says.
“In an emergency situation, when applying brakes worn shocks can make the tyre lose contact with the road, increasing the chance of an accident.