UK tyre law explained – and why it should be tougher, says Bridgestone

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The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre.

Vicki Butler Henderson demonstrates how to check tyre tread depth to reduce the risk of aquaplaning

Drivers whose tyres fail to comply with the minimum tread depth requirements face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points on their licence for each illegal tyre, as per CU30 law. However, illegal tyres is currently seen only as a summary offence and not mandatory, which means all charges need legal prosecution and very few are actually enforced.

Now Bridgestone tyres is calling on the UK Government to implement mandatory fines on motorists who drive with defective or worn tyres.

The tyre manufacturer has ventured its view after Ireland announced it has introduced a new fixed charge notice (FCH) with fines of €80 now in effect for illegal tyres.

Bridgestone believes that a fixed fine will promote greater awareness amongst motorists of the hazards of driving with tyres that are not in roadworthy condition.

Robin Shaw, managing director of Bridgestone, explained that it believed that the measure would not only improve road safety and awareness, but could also generate funds to be reinvested into general road safety.

“Because tyres are the only contact points between a car and the road, their condition plays a huge factor in overall road safety,” according to Mr Shaw. “There are literally millions of tyres on our roads which are illegal and pose a danger to other motorists’ lives.

“We think that a fixed charge notice would keep the issue firmly in people’s minds, whilst encouraging everyone to take some simple tyre safety checks which literally take seconds to carry out.”

Tyre tread is important because in wet weather the grooves help to remove water from the contact patch between the tyres and the road surface, enabling drivers to brake, steer and accelerate properly.

Without adequate tread depth tyres may not be able to perform properly in wet conditions, reducing safety on the road. It is therefore advisable to consider replacing your tyres well before they reach the legal minimum.

A survey undertaken by TyreSafe in partnership with Highways England of the tread depth of tyres at the point of replacement, from February to May 2015, showed that more than a quarter of all drivers had an illegal tyre on their vehicle, suggesting that potentially 10 million tyres on the roads of England, Scotland and Wales were dangerous and illegal last year.

That figure equates to potentially up to one in every four cars and LCVs of the 35.3 million vehicles on Britain’s roads having an illegal tyre at some point during the year.

Shaw added: “If a fixed fine, as is the case in Ireland, results in motorists checking their tyres and replacing as necessary, then it can only be a good thing.

“The average stopping distance of a new tyre with 8mm tread depth is around 26 metres compared to around 38 metres on a worn tyre at 1.6mm tread depth. So it can literally be a matter of life and death.”

Click here to watch etyres short video featuring Vicki Butler Henderson demonstrating how quick and easy it is to check tyre tread depths.

Denna Bowman, Head Office

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