Latest official figures show that dangerous tyres were a factor in a third of the casualties caused by defective vehicles. Department for Transport statistics revealed that defective vehicles were responsible for 2855 casualties in 2013. Dangerous tyres contributed to 968 of those, or 34 per cent.
In an effort to reduce these numbers, October has been decreed Tyre Safety Month by TyreSafe. The not-for-profit organization has designed the campaign to encourage drivers to check their tyres’ tread depth and prepare for the challenging conditions that winter invariably brings.
“These latest figures are very worrying and sadly reflect a general attitude of indifference by many drivers towards checking their tyres regularly,” said TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson. “As the only part of your car in contact with the road, it’s vital that your tyres are looked after correctly and inspected regularly to ensure they will work properly in emergency situations when they are needed most.”
Checking tyres’ tread depth forms part of Green Flag’s Free Car Health Checks and is easy to do yourself with nothing more complicated than a 20-pence piece. Stand the coin between the grooves in the tyre. The band that runs round the edge of the 20p should be well inside the groove. If you can see that band standing proud of the tyre’s groove, the tread depth will be below the 1.6mm legal minimum.
Tyres that don’t have the legal tread minimum can incur three penalty points and a £2500 fine per tyre. But even having legal tyres doesn’t necessarily make your car as safe as it can be. Tyre experts recommend that rubber is changed when the tread depth gets down to 3mm. Tests by independent experts have shown that stopping distances at motorway speeds for barely legal tyres are four times longer than those with 3mm of tread left.
For drivers who don’t feel comfortable checking their own tyres, many tyre dealers are conducting free tyre checks as part of this year’s Tyre Safety Month. Go to the TyreSafe website to find a dealer near you. Many fast fit centres also conduct safety checks. ATS Euromaster does a free tyre, battery and brake check. Kwik Fit doesn’t just cover tyre condition and air pressure but also the car’s battery, coolant, wiper blade, washer fluid and light bulbs. Formula One Autocentres does all that plus its free 10-point check ensures the car’s brakes, exhaust, engine oil and heating system are all fit and healthy.