A total of 194 motorists were killed or seriously injured on UK roads last year as a result of accidents caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres. And a study from road safety group Tyresafe has found young drivers are putting themselves at a greater risk of being involved in such accidents through a lack of regular tyre maintenance.
The survey of 1,000 drivers aged between 18 and 25 found two-thirds (66%) don’t regularly check the tread depth on their tyres, while a third (33%) have never checked them. It wasn’t just tread depth that was an issue – just over a quarter (26%) admitted they’ve never checked their car’s tyre pressures, almost half (48%) said they had no idea how to check the condition of their tyres and over half (55%) of those surveyed had never been shown how to change a wheel. Not only that, over half (57%) weren’t aware it was their responsibility to ensure tyres are safe and legal. And it’s not just a safety issue either. Being caught with illegal tyres comes with a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points, something which more than two thirds (38%) of young drivers were unaware of. This means if a young driver is driving on two illegal tyres they’re risking clocking up six penalty points (three for each tyre) which could see them having their licence revoked! So, if you or any young drivers you know are unaware how often you should check your tyres and what exactly you should be checking them for, read on…
How to check your tyres
Regular tyre maintenance is an integral part of being a responsible driver but it appears this is something that is lost on young drivers, not through any fault of their own, but simply through a lack of education and awareness. The first thing that needs checking is the depth of tread on the tyre, which should be at the very least 1.6mm, the legal limit, but you should consider getting them replaced if the tread is below 3mm. You can pick up a tread depth gauge for a couple of quid, or place a £2 coin in the tyre tread: if the gold rim if covered you’re good to go, any less and the tyre will have to be replaced.
Having adequate tread depth is important as it means the car can accelerate, brake, corner and handle properly. This is particularly important at this time of year because driving conditions become more hazardous as the weather deteriorates. While you’re checking the tread depth, just feel around the tyre wall for any signs of wear, taking care in case any wire is sticking out that could cut your hand. If the tyre is badly worn, get it replaced immediately. Next up is tyre pressure – underinflated tyres will not only affect your car’s handling but will also increase wear by up to 30% and increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%. So check the owner’s manual for your car’s correct tyre pressure and get them pumped – if you don’t have the owner’s manual, this information can be found on a plate inside one of the door frames, under the bonnet or you can type your registration number into http://www.tyre-pressures.com/ Ideally, tyres should be checked at least once a month and an additional check should be made just before setting off on a long journey.