Bald tyres putting lives at risk on UK roads

No oil in your car or worn brake pads will certainly affect the performance of your vehicle and you wouldn’t overlook these issues in a hurry. But the condition of your car’s tyres is just as important.

Your motor’s rubber is the only point of contact a vehicle has with the road. Acceleration, braking and steering forces are all transmitted through what collectively amounts to something the size of an A4 piece of paper.

It’s alarming, then, that 9,639 people in England and Wales were convicted for driving with dangerous or defective tyres in 2011 – and probably a great deal more that weren’t spotted by the eyes of the law.

UK rules requires motorists to have a minimum 1.6mm of tread left over the central three quarters of their tyres. Below this the rubber is deemed illegal and drivers risk a fine of up to £2,500 and three points on their licence for each bald item.

It’s not just a fiscal penalty you could be paying for driving with defective tyres, though. Last year over 1,200 people were injured in crashes caused by illegal, defective or under-inflated rubber.

Not keeping your tyres in roadworthy order means grip could be seriously reduced – especially in wet conditions – with braking and steering inputs not as effective as if driving on legal hoops.

According to Chairman of TyreSafe, Stuart Jackson: “Tyres play a vital role in road safety so these latest figures are very worrying. Not only is there still a high level of ignorance about tyre care, but perhaps even more alarming is that many motorists continue to drive on tyres they know are illegal or dangerous.

“It’s like playing Russian roulette as the tyre is the only part of the car in contact with the road and, therefore, makes them vitally important to how a car performs.”

For the price of a tank of fuel or two, you could pick up a set of new budget tyres for the average family car, avoiding an expensive fine and more importantly, keeping you, your passengers and other road users safe.