Four in ten drivers don’t check tyres regularly – risking safety on roads

Only a quarter of drivers knew the correct minimum legal tyre tread depth – while almost a fifth admitted they did not know if their tyres were road legal

Only a quarter of drivers knew the correct legal minimum tyre tread depth
Only a quarter of drivers knew the correct legal minimum tyre tread depth

Four in ten motorists risk their own safety and that of those around them by not checking their tyres regularly, research has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 motorists found one in ten (12 percent) never check their tyres, while a quarter (27 percent) didn’t know when they last checked them.

As a result, almost a fifth (18 percent) admitted they couldn’t say if their tyres were road legal or not.

This not only creates a greater risk on the road, but drivers could pick up 12 points, a fine of £2,500 per tyre, and a driving ban if their tyres are not roadworthy.

In the UK, all road legal cars must have a minimum 1.6mm tyre tread depth.

Drivers can also measure tread depth with a simple coin if they do not have a gauge


Wodicka/ullstein bild/Getty Images)

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While braking distance and vehicle control reduces as the tyre wears, below this, they are particularly dangerous because they are significantly impaired.

However, just 27 percent of drivers, surveyed by Continental Tyres, correctly named 1.6mm as the minimum legal tyre tread depth in the UK.

One in 50 of the motorists surveyed – the equivalent of more than 600,000 drivers – thought the legal tread was just 1mm.

Peter Robb, from Continental Tyres, which commissioned the research to mark the start of Road Safety Week, said: “It is vital your car is in a roadworthy condition, and this means carrying out regular maintenance checks, particularly with an easy-to-do task like looking at the condition of your tyres.

“Driving around with worn tyres can not only be a dangerous experience, but also a costly one.

“Tyres form the essential bond between your vehicle and the ground, with the tread gripping to the road as you drive, and if there isn’t enough tread your car loses traction and your braking distance increases.

“Reduced tread depth makes it harder to control the vehicle in wet weather and the chance of aquaplaning increases, putting lives at risk inside and outside of the vehicle.”

Worryingly, almost a third (29 percent) of the drivers polled didn’t know the correct tyre pressure on their vehicle.

And while all cars sold in the UK after 2014 must have a tyre pressure monitor system (TPMS) by law to warn drivers of low pressure, this is not something drivers always pay attention to.

As road conditions get more wintery, it is more important than ever to make sure tyres are safe to drive on


Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)

The survey, carried out by OnePoll, found that if the TMPS light came on, almost four in ten (37 percent) wouldn’t look at the tyre immediately.

But even with a brand-new tyre, something as tiny as a nail or a piece of glass can cause damage in an instant, while punctures larger than 5mm in diameter can lead to a rapid loss of air pressure and a flat tyre.

Continental Tyres has developed ContiSeal – a sticky, viscous sealant layer inside the tyre – which the brand claims will allow driving to continue without the need to change to a spare tyre or call out roadside assistance.

Pete Robb, from Continental Tyres, added: “As the days are getting shorter and the weather more unpredictable, it is crucial your tyres are in a roadworthy condition.

“You should regularly use a tyre tread depth gauge or simply carry out the 20p tyre test and look for excessive shoulder wear, which can indicate misalignment or other problems with your vehicle.

“Also watch out for bulges in the sidewall, as this can indicate internal tyre damage and your tyres may not be safe.

“And if your car doesn’t have a tyre pressure monitoring system, we’d recommend buying a tyre pressure gauge and carrying out regular checks.”

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