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Nearly 10 million illegal tyres on Britainís roads

Kwik Fit | Friday 31st July 2015 3:00pm

20p tread depth test on tyre

When was the last time you checked your tyres to ensure they were still roadworthy? In a recent survey conducted by TyreSafe in partnership with Highways England, more than a quarter of drivers had an illegal tyre on their vehicle at the time they were replaced. Thatís potentially up to 10 million illegal and dangerous tyres on Britainís roads.

Most of Britainís vehicle tyres begin life with 8mm of tread which should last for approximately 20,000 miles. Unfortunately tyre tread wonít last forever and it is recommended that drivers change their tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm rather than waiting until they reach the legal limit of 1.6mm. The biggest reason for this recommendation is one of safety.

In the event of an emergency braking manoeuvre, your car relies on the tyre tread to grip the road and help come to a complete stop in the shortest possible distance. Braking distance can be directly correlated to tyre tread depth so as your tread wears out, grip decreases and braking distance increases. Our research shows that the breaking distance from 50 mph to standstill increases by the length of almost a full-size London Transport bus (8.26 m) when using tyres where the tread has reached the minimum depth of 1.6mm compared to the same tyres with 3mm of tread.

So why are there so many illegal tyres on the roads? TyreSafe believes the main reason is down to a lack of awareness and driver education. Driving with tyres under the legal tread limit isnít just a safety risk, itís also against the law. If you are pulled over by the police with illegal tyres, you could face heavy fines and penalty points being placed on your licence. So youíre not only putting the safety of yourself and other road users in danger, youíre also at risk of getting into hot water with the law.

When it comes to tyre safety checks, TyreSafe is advising drivers to remember a simple acronym and ACT: Air pressure, Condition, Tread.

Air pressure: Always make sure your tyre pressure is at the correct level. Check the recommended tyre pressure for your vehicle which can be found in your vehicle handbook or sometimes in the well of the driver's door.

Condition: Drivers are advised to check their tyres for any signs of irregular wear or damage such as bulges, lumps or any cuts.

Tread Depth: A simple way to check to see if your tyre tread depth exceeds the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm is to use the 20p method. Simply find a 20p piece and place it inside the main tread grooves of the tyre and make sure your eyeline is level with the tyre. If the outer band of the 20p piece is obscured by the tyre then your tyres have adequate tread. Make sure you do the 20p test in at least 3 different locations across the tyre as you may have uneven tyre wear. If you can see the outer band of the 20p piece on any of the tests, your tyres could be approaching the legal limit so itís advised to have them checked as soon as possible.

So if you havenít checked your tyres recently, we recommend you get out there and ACT!

It is good practice to check your air pressure, tyre condition and tyre tread at least once a month to ensure your tyres stay road-legal and if you are in any doubt or have concerns about your tyres, pop into your nearest Kwik Fit centre and weíll check your tyres for free. Find my nearest Kwik Fit centre.

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