More than half (62%) of drivers are unaware of the legal minimum tyre tread depth and around one in 10 (12%) haven’t checked their tyres in the last year, according to research by NFDA Trusted Dealers.
Despite the success of October’s fifth annual Tyre Safety Month, the research, which surveyed 1,000 motorists on how regularly they undertake essential tyre maintenance, showed little more than a third of the road users know that the minimum tyre tread depth should be 1.6mm.
When equated to the 30 million motorists on British roads this means more than 18m drivers have no idea if their tyres are roadworthy.
The survey also revealed that 12.4 per cent of drivers last checked their tyre tread depth more than a year ago - even though fortnightly checks are advised to ensure safety and avoid potential fines of up to £2,500 plus three penalty points for illegal tyres.
According to figures released by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), more than 2.2 million cars failed their MOT test last year due to the condition of their tyres.
Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) also showed that more than 968 UK road casualties in 2013 were caused because of illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres.
Neil Addley, director of franchised dealer-owned used car website NFDA Trusted Dealers, said: “It’s worrying that so many drivers are unaware of how to ensure their tyres are roadworthy, particularly when you consider the fact that these four pieces of rubber are the only things separating you from the road.
“As we approach the winter months, tread depth becomes even more important. Although 1.6mm is the minimum legal tread depth, we often advise investing in new tyres once the tread reaches 3mm to ensure safety.
"You can reduce stopping distance by more than a car length when breaking on tyres with a 3mm tread depth, rather than the legal minimum of 1.6mm. We’d always recommend drivers replace their tyres before they become fully worn.
“An easy way to safeguard against dangerous tyres is to remember to check tread depth and tyre pressure the first time you fill up with fuel each month.
"If you have any queries, concerns or if you’re simply looking for advice on your tyres then get in touch with your local franchised dealer, who will be able to help.
"You can also sign up at our website for a free ‘Tyre Tread Depth Checker’. This handy credit card-sized device can be kept in your purse or wallets to make sure you’re always reminded.”
NFDA Trusted Dealers recommends drivers undertake the following checks when filling their tank for the first time each month:
- Tyre Tread Depth: Insert a 20p coin into the lowest tread depth of your tyres. If you can’t see the outer rim around the edge of the coin, then your tyre is safe and has a minimum of 3mm tread depth. If you can see the rim then your tyre tread is less than 3mm and should be checked by a professional.
- Tyre Pressure: Trusted Dealers recommends checking your pressure (including the spare tyre) weekly or at least monthly to increase road safety and prolong the life of the tyres. The correct tyre pressure can usually be found printed on the inside ledge of the driver’s door or inside the petrol cap. To check the pressure, take off the dust cap on the valve, fix on the pressure gauge and take a note of the result. Then inflate to the required pressure and reconnect the dust cap.