More than a quarter of tyres already illegal when replaced

12.00 | 17 August 2016 | | 5 comments

More than 10m motorists in the UK could be driving a vehicle with an illegal tyre, according to the tyre safety organisation TyreSafe.

Working in partnership with Highways England, TyreSafe examined 340,000 replaced tyres – with 27.3% found to be illegal at the point of replacement.

In terms of countries, Northern Ireland had the highest percentage (36.5%), followed by Wales (29.1%), Scotland (27.4%) and England (26.8%).

The investigation also showed that 70.4% of tyres were illegal and/or below 2mm (0.4mm above the legal limit) at the point of replacement, a year-on-year increase of 4%.

TyreSafe says that its findings confirm fears among road safety stakeholders of a poor attitude towards tyre safety among UK motorists.

Its adds that a vehicle’s tyres are the only safety critical component in contact with the road and if unroadworthy the effectiveness of the vehicle’s braking and steering systems are significantly compromised.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “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 minimum.

“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 checks.

“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."

Picture via TyreSafe



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    Back when I was a grease monkey, many cars would only come to me once a year for that MOT. They frequently had appalling tyres, bulbs blown for months, washer bottles empty the same length of time. Even the private cars of the coach drivers next door who did daily checks were prone to such neglect. Even my twitter feed contains at least one “cords exposed” picture a day from various trafpol groups. Dangerous tyres are merely a symptom, dangerous people are the actual disease.

    steve, watford
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    I have contributed to the 70.4% as I did not replace tyres that were both safe and legal at 2mm. I have also contributed to the 27.3% found to be illegal at the point of replacement. One tyre had a damaged sidewall due to a pothole, and another had a nail in the edge. Unless we know the reasons behind the stats, can any meaningful conclusion be drawn?

    Dave Finney, Slough
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    ‘Scary statistics’ or scaremongering satistics I wonder? The link to the website reveals a bullet point: “Dangerous tyres are the largest single contributory factor in accidents resulting in casualties”. Debatable, to say the least.

    Hugh Jones
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    Scary statistics. We always promote pre-drive checks to be completed to ensure the vehicle is good to go and have developed simple systems to help companies/individuals complete the checks.

    Goodtogosafety UK
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    Understandably perhaps, I suspect a lot of motorists only renew their tyres because of the legal requirements and fear of prosecution (and the need to get an MOT certificate), rather than being prompted by any perceived sense of increased risk or compromise in safety.

    Incidentally, how would one differentiate between a ‘tyre related incident’ from say, a ‘going too fast’ related incident. or a ‘tailgating related incident’ or even an ‘air in the brake fluid’ related incident?

    Hugh Jones
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