“As we move into the wettest months of the year, adequate tyre tread depth is a critical element of road safety,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “There are still far too many accidents and fatalities occurring every day which could have been avoided if the driver had paid more attention to the condition of their tyres. The ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ campaign gives drivers an incredibly easy and simple way to check their tread depth which will help them stay safe and on the right side of the law.”
During 2008, 34 motorists died on the UK’s roads where an illegal, defective or under-inflated tyre was a contributory factor in the accident. At least 900 other motorists were also injured in accidents where tyre neglect played a part. Independent research commissioned by TyreSafe found that more than half of all drivers could not correctly identify the legal tread depth and a startling one in five drivers had never checked their tread depth. The AA reported that in 2008 nearly one in ten of every breakdown it attends, is for a tyre related call out.
Current UK law states that tyre tread on cars must be at a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread, around its entire circumference. Drivers found in breach of this law face a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.
The ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ campaign encourages drivers to insert a 20p coin into the main grooves of the tyre to check the tread depth. If the outer band of the coin is visible when inserted, then the tyre may not have sufficient depth and should be checked by a qualified specialist.
Adequate tread depth is critical to safe motoring. The tread grooves are carefully designed to remove water from the road surface and keep the tyre in contact with the road. If the tread grooves are not deep enough, water cannot be moved resulting in a loss of grip and traction which can lead to longer stopping distances, reduced handling and an increased likelihood of aquaplaning. More than a quarter of drivers surveyed by TyreSafe were unaware that they were more likely to suffer from aquaplaning with low tread and one in five drivers were unaware that they would take longer to stop in the wet or would not be able to go round corners as well.
“The level of ignorance about tread depth is quite worrying,” adds Jackson. “Tyres are the only part of the vehicle in contact with the road surface so it is essential that they are in a condition that allows them to perform properly. If people do not look after them properly, not only do they risk incurring fines and penalty points, but they also greatly increase their likelihood of being involved in a serious accident.”
For further information about tyre safety or details of how to use the lifesaver in your pocket, visit the TyreSafe website at www.tyresafe.org.
Top Tips for checking tyre tread depths
1. Ideally, tyre tread depth should be checked at least once a month at the same time that you check your tyre pressure.
2. If you do not have a calibrated tread depth gauge a 20p coin provides a useful guide.
3. Insert the 20p coin into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its width.
4. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal and you should have them checked by a qualified tyre specialist.
5. When checking your tread depth, give the rest of the tyres a visual inspection for any cuts or bulges and remove any stones or objects embedded in the tread.
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TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the dangers of defective and worn tyres. TyreSafe evolved from the Tyre Industry Council and has campaigned consistently to underline the importance of tyre safety for more than 15 years. The organisation was rewarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2001.
TyreSafe receives positive support from many major tyre manufacturers and retailers, and has been credited with reducing the number of defective tyres in the UK over the past decade from 18 percent to 12 percent.
TyreSafe supports the government’s ACT ON CO2 campaign which promotes Smarter Driving tips to help cut CO2 emissions from driving. For more information visit www.dft.uk/ActOnCO2.
TyreSafe is a signatory to the European Road Safety Charter which was launched in 2004 with the aim of halving the number of deaths on European roads by 2010.