Drivers failing to look after and replace their tyres are putting their own lives, and those of others in grave danger, says industry body TyreSafe.
The stark warning has been issued after it received shocking images from one independent tyre dealer who was left flabbergasted by the state of one of its customers’ tyres.
The tyre, removed from a high performance BMW 3-series, was so worn, none of its tread pattern remained, making it virtually useless in the wet. Furthermore, the wear was so great on one shoulder of the tyre that it had started to destroy the integrity of the tyre carcass, with potentially fatal high speed consequences.
“This particular tyre was an accident waiting to happen,” said Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.
"Adequate tread depth is essential all year round, but particularly important just now when we are experiencing so much rain and difficult driving conditions. Checking your tyre tread depth is very simple and only takes a few minutes. It really is something that all drivers should do at least once a month to stay safe and legal.”
Current UK law requires car drivers to have at least 1.6mm of tread on their tyres across the central three quarters of the tyre around its entire circumference. Those found to be in breach of this law can face fines of up to £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre. Indeed, in 2012 more than 170 drivers per week were successfully prosecuted in court for driving on defective tyres.
More importantly, driving on illegal tyres can greatly reduce safety on the road, especially in wet conditions. The tyre’s tread grooves help to evacuate water from the road surface, enabling the tyre to grip the road properly so that the vehicle can brake, steer and accelerate safely. Without adequate tread depth, all of these are greatly compromised, risking the safety of the driver, their passengers and other road users.
To help drivers quickly assess if their car tyres are safe and legal, TyreSafe recommends taking the 20p test. Drivers simply need to insert a 20p coin into the main grooves of a tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible when inserted into the groove, then the tread is probably too low and should be inspected immediately by a qualified tyre professional.
“Sadly, the bad weather shows no sign of subsiding at the moment so it’s particularly important that drivers ensure their tyres can cope in these terrible conditions,” added Jackson. “If you’re in any doubt then pop into your local tyre specialist who I’m sure would be delighted to check things for you.”