As many as half of British drivers seems to think that driving around with illegal tyres is ok — that’s the message from Micheldever Tyres Services, which checks the tyres on 50,000 vehicles per year.
Before you protest that people only visit a tyre centre when they need new tyres, MTS provides a lot of other services too.
The tyres in the picture opposite were fitted to a car that was in for a clutch replacement at MTS Crawley. The driver refused to have them changed and drove away, completely illegally, after his clutch had been fixed.
Illegal and proud
MTS checks almost 1,000 vehicles a week at its UK locations, and has done so for more than five years. The statistics are terrifying:
- Over 53% of all vehicles checked have at least one tyre below the legal minimum of 1.6mm;
- 95.8% of vehicles have a tyre below 2mm;
- The September statistic was the highest figure recorded by the company in over 5 years.
Things have got much worse since the recession started — in 2008 figure, 15.3% of tyres checked were illegal and 64.2% were below 2mm, the recommended safe limit by most motoring organisations.
Economic hardship and recession has obviously contributed to motorists cutting corners on safety and car maintenance, but this situation isn’t acceptable — and it isn’t the same in other countries with much worse recessions, as Alan Baldwin, MTS wholesale director explains:
In comparison with the Spanish market for instance, an economy experiencing very tough times with a 25% unemployment rate, yet on a recent visit with a number of MTS UK dealers to one of the country’s top tyre retailers, Pneumaticos Solidad, of the tyres removed from vehicles, virtually none were below the 1.6mm legal minimum.”
MTS believes that tyre enforcement needs to be stepped up in the UK and I agree — tyres like this are potentially lethal as they provide almost no grip in wet, cold conditions and are far more likely to blowout than legal tyres would be.
The growing popularity of part-worn tyres (an expensive, dangerous rip-off) doesn’t help either — it’s not reassuring to know that thousands of British drivers are driving around on tyres that are only seen as good enough for scrap in Germany.
Without much more thorough police enforcement — which would have to include widespread random spot checks — there isn’t much chance things will improve. The chances of getting caught are low and for some reason, people just aren’t bothered by the safety risks of old, worn-out tyres.