A new fleet tyre survey has found that up to 30% of tyres removed from company cars have less than the legal minimum of 1.6 mm of remaining tread. Having illegal tyres could land drivers with three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500.
Stopping distances also increase significantly as tyre tread depth decreases, especially in the wet.
Experts believe employers could also face prosecution after an accident in which illegal tyres were a contributory factor.
Under duty of care guidance issued by the Health and Safety Executive, fleets should have a comprehensive safety policy that states drivers understand they are responsible for checking vehicle safety.
Mike Waters, head of market analysis at fleet and fuel management company Arval, which carried out the survey, said: ‘It is essential that all fleet operators have a vehicle safety policy as part of their overall risk management procedures.
‘This should advise all drivers of vehicles used for company business that they have a responsibility to check and maintain safety critical features. Tyre pressure maintenance is crucial to maintaining vehicle safety and extending tyre longevity.’
The Arval study also found that poor driving style has the greatest effect on tyre wear with other factors including climatic conditions, vehicle power and suspension, road surface and pressure.
Drivers should be encouraged to ensure that tyres are set to the vehicle manufacturers’ recommended pressures for driving, they should check pressures every two weeks or before a long journey, pressures should be checked when the tyres are cold, tread should be checked for abnormal wear, cuts, trapped stones or nails and the sidewall should be examined for bulges or cracking. Arval claim that a tyre running with 20% lower pressure, only about 6psi in some cases, have a reduced life by about 26%.
Lower pressures also contribute to rolling resistance and increased fuel costs.