Research has found that one in six of Britain’s principal roads failed basic skid resistance tests and that under wet conditions old, worn roads and tyres on, or even slightly above, the legal tread depth limit were putting company car drivers’ lives at risk.
The two-year survey by the AA Motoring Trust and the County Surveyors’ Society (CSS) also found that on high stress sites such as roundabouts, sharp bends and steep hills – where there is a lot of braking – two out of three sites failed the basic, first level test.
As a result, at these points, drivers were 50% more likely to skid in wet conditions than on sites that passed the safety checks.
With the road repair industry engulfed by the enormity of the repairs needed to the network, the report found that tyres with deep tread, inflated to the right pressure, were the most effective way to counter the danger of poor surfaces.
Bert Morris, the AA Trust’s director called for a review of the 1.6mm minimum tread depth requirement, saying it may no longer be adequate.
He added: ‘The quality of maintenance on many roads is not good enough. Road authorities must have funds to provide safer surfaces. Doubling skid resistance can halve the number of accidents, while driving on worn-out tyres is courting disaster.’
Geoff Allister, CSS president, said: ‘How well rubber and road grip each other can be the difference between life and death in crashes and near misses.
‘We need much greater investment from local authorities in road surface renewal – few other budgets have such an influence on life and death in their communities. It’s time for society to treat road crashes resulting in death or severe injury as seriously as those in the air, on the railways or in the workplace.’