Tyre Safety – Have You Checked Your Tyre Tread?

When was the last time you checked the depth of the tread on your car tyres? According to a survey conducted by tyre safety organisation Tyresafe, published in November 2013, if you’re aged between 18 and 25, there’s a very good chance you’ve never checked them.

The survey revealed that over a third of young drivers in that age group have never checked their tyre tread and two out of three admitted that they hadn’t checked within the last month.

Safety is an obvious concern if you haven't looked at your tyres recently – tyres with less grip give you far less control of your car and could cause an accident – but there are other implications that young drivers should be aware of.

Tyres and the law

The legal tyre tread for a passenger vehicle in the UK is at least 1.6mm (as at January 2014) throughout a continuous band in the centre three-quarters of the tread width, around the complete circumference of the tyre. 

If you drive with tyres below this limit, you risk a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points. A serious risk for young drivers is that they could have their driving licence revoked if they accrue six points or more in the first two years of passing their test – the equivalent of two illegal tyres. Insurance for drivers with convictions is likely to be more expensive.

Tyres and insurance

Regular checks of your tyres are also important for insurance purposes. In the event of a claim, if an insurance investigator finds that your tyres were excessively worn or damaged, it could invalidate your policy. This would leave you uninsured and facing more serious legal penalties.

How to check tyre tread

  1. Make sure you have good, safe access to check your tyres – park on a flat even surface off the road
  2. Don’t rely on guesswork for your inspection – buy a tyre tread depth gauge. They’re inexpensive and readily available from many shops and online
  3. Check the tread in numerous places, both across the width of the tyre and around the whole circumference, using the gauge
  4. Tread wear indicators moulded into the main grooves will help your inspection. When the tread surface is worn to the same level as the indicators, it’s time to replace the tyre
  5. If the tread appears to be close to the legal minimum, get them checked by a professional tyre fitter and if necessary, changed.

Checking your tyres only takes a few minutes and should be a regular part of your car maintenance routine.

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