More than 10 million UK motorists could
drive a vehicle with an illegal and
dangerous tyre during 2016, according to
TyreSafe research.
The survey, in partnership with Highways
England and announced at a Tyre Safety
Month Briefing, revealed more than 27%
of tyres were already illegal when they
were replaced.
That equates to more than one-in-four of
the 37 million cars and light commercial
vehicles on the UK’s roads being driven
with a tyre that could cost its driver a
£2,500 fine and three penalty points, an
MOT failure – or worse.
The survey’s findings confirm fears
among road safety stakeholders of a poor
attitude towards tyre safety among UK
motorists, which is increasing the risk of
drivers being involved in an incident.
Previous studies have proven that the
braking distance of a vehicle with tread of
1.6mm is nearly 12m further than a
vehicle with new tyres when braking in the
wet from 50mph.
Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe,
said: “The tread depth survey results are
a concern. Figures from the Department
for Transport show that dangerous tyres
are the largest single contributory factor
in accidents resulting in casualties of any
vehicle defect – including brakes.
“If the number of casualties from tyre-
related incidents is to be reduced on our
roads, the UK’s motorists need to change
their attitude to this primary safety feature
and carry out regular checks to ensure
their vehicle’s tyres are roadworthy.
“The concern comes not just from the
number of illegal tyres at the point of
replacement, but also the proportion
which were below 2mm – those with just
0.4mm left (half the thickness of a bank
card) before reaching the 1.6mm legal
“While a tyre is legal at this point, the
amount of distance it can cover and
remain within the law is difficult to predict
and can only be verified by regular
“TyreSafe’s own research has revealed
one-in-five drivers have never checked
their tyres and the majority of the
remaining vehicle owners do not do so on
a regular basis.
“The obvious conclusion is that while one-
in-four tyres are illegal at the point of
replacement, a further 43% are changed
before reaching 1.6mm more by good
luck than good judgement. TyreSafe urges
drivers to check their tyres regularly
before their luck runs out.”