UK drivers run winter rain risk, says TyreSafe

TyreSafe 20p tyre check
If you can see the band around the outside of a 20p coin when you insert it into the tread of a tyre, the tyre may need replacing.

I’ve documented British drivers’ fabled lack of interest in their cars’ tyres before, and it’s shameful — but true — that in the UK, one-in-five cars fails its first MOT.

Indeed, even in these cash-strapped times, the facts suggest that British drivers are happy to waste a collective £500,000 per year on avoidable test failures.

Given this, it came as no surprise to me to learn that just 27 per cent of drivers claimed that they had checked their tyre tread depth in the last month, the maximum period recommended between checks, and a staggering one in five admitted that they had never checked them.

This new research comes from tyre safety campaign group TyreSafe, which recently carried out a new tyre survey, ahead of October’s Tyre Safety Month.

The survey found that although current UK law requires car tyres to have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth, more than a quarter of those questioned thought the legal limit was even less than this. Underlining the level of ignorance regarding tyre safety laws, more than 80 per cent respondents were unaware that the maximum possible fine for driving on an illegal tyre with insufficient tread depth is £2,500.

Most drivers (80 per cent) were aware of the phenomenon of aquaplaning, a dangerous situation caused by lack of tread depth on wet roads, where the car’s tyres lose complete contact with the road surface, leaving the driver without any control. However, more than half of drivers stated that they would react in a manner that would either make matters worse or have no effect on an aquaplaning car, such as pressing the brake to slow down.

“Avoiding wet weather problems such as aquaplaning, can be easily achieved by regularly checking your tyre tread depth,” says Stuart Jackson, who is TyreSafe’s chairman. “It’s a very simple and quick job to do your yourself – all you need is a 20p coin, or alternatively you can visit one of the thousands of garages and tyre retailers around the country who are offering free tyre safety checks as part of October’s Tyre Safety Month.”

Meanwhile, anyone keen to check their tyre tread depths themselves simply needs to place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of their tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, then your tyre tread depth is above the legal minimum limit. However, if the outer band is visible when inserted into the tread, your tyres may be unsafe or illegal and should be checked immediately by a tyre professional. When checking your tread depth, ensure you check at least three locations around each tyre.

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