The warning came after a survey launched by the RAC Foundation at the start of National Think Before You Drive Month showed that more than two million motorists in the UK never check their tyre pressures or treads and 7% check only once a year. The NOP Automotive Survey found that 49% inspect their tyres at the recommended monthly interval, but only 4% check every journey and 13% check only when going on a long journey.
The survey suggests drivers aged 17 to 24 are least likely to know their recommended tyre pressure. Some 85% of male drivers claim they know the recommended levels, but half of women do not.
It is believed that 6% of fatal motorway accidents are caused by the sudden failure of under-inflated tyres, while worn tyres contribute to 10% of accidents in the wet. The problem is exacerbated by the state of air pressure gauges in petrol stations. Spot checks found one in three were not working or had been vandalised.
RAC Foundation executive director Edmund King said: ‘Tyres are the only contact the car has with the road and it is essential they are not worn or under or over-inflated. All garages should provide reliable air equipment free of charge.’