Just a quarter of drivers can correctly identify the legal minimum tread depth for cars on UK roads, says a Kwik Fit study.
Research shows that 75% do not know the legal minimum is 1.6mm.
This means that 32.2 million drivers are unaware of the tyre regulations, with one in ten admitting they did not know what tyre ‘tread depth’ meant.
Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “These figures are alarming and prove we have a lot of work to do when it comes to tyre education.
“Tyre treads are designed to give good grip, which is especially important when the roads are wet.
“Without adequate tread, the performance of the tyre will decrease and ultimately affect the overall safety of the vehicle.
“For all the safety developments car manufacturers are making, we have to remember that tyres are the only part of a car that are in contact with the road and so it is vital that they are in the best condition possible.”
Only 11% of motorists knew about penalties for driving with tyres below the legal tread depth requirement.
Drivers can get three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre if the tyres do not meet compliance rules.
A full set of tyres that fail to comply could result in drivers losing their licence and a fine of £10,000.
Over 12 million say they check their tyre tread less often than every six months, with 15% of drivers admitting to never checking it.
Griggs concluded “There are simple checks, such as the 20 pence piece test, that drivers can perform themselves to ensure their tyre tread depth is legal.
“We are very sorry to those drivers who got a temporary shock in our clamping campaign, but we hope that this activity helps remind drivers to make regular checks on their tyres.
“For anyone not confident in checking by themselves, our centres offer a tyre check service to give peace of mind to motorists.”