Poor tyre maintenance caused more car accidents on UK roads last year than any other vehicle defect, including faulty brakes.
Defective tyres, including low pressures, illegal tread and damage, accounted for 446 accidents, according to the latest figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The findings indicate that many motorists are not carrying out regular tyre maintenance checks, otherwise many of these problems could have been corrected and accidents avoided.
Surprisingly, faulty brakes accounted for 365 accidents, that is 81 less than dodgy tyres, which drives home the crucial safety role these four components play.
Tyre maintenance is something all motorists can carry out themselves, without the need to pay a garage for the service.
Just following these steps:
Ensure all tyres have at least the minimum legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tyre and around the entire circumference.
The easiest way to check tyre tread depths is to locate the Tread Wear Indicator (TWI) bars which are moulded into the groves. When the tread is worn down to the same level as the TWI’s the tyre will be on or around the legal minimum limit and needs replacing. Check the tyres at several points to guarantee an accurate result.
Under-inflated tyres reduce a vehicles ability to grip the road and compromise handling, while over-inflated tyres have a smaller contact area with the road, again reducing grip and also increasing stopping distances.
The correct pressure for a vehicle can be found in the drivers handbook, on a sticker inside the drivers door jamb or on the fuel cap. Tyre pressure should be checked at least once a month and always ahead of a long journey. They should be tested when the tyres are cold or have been run on for less than a couple of miles.
Most fuel station forecourts have a machine to check tyre pressures and adjust the level of air inside.
While checking tread depths and air pressures, also keep a look out for signs of damage, such as cracks, bulges or objects embedded in the rubber, such as stones or nails. All of these can lead to slow punctures or blow outs at high speed, but if the problem is spotted early enough, it is possible the tyre can be repaired saving motorists the expense of buying a brand new replacement.
As well as reducing the risk of causing an accident, properly maintained tyres also lead to better fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions, so not only do they save lives and money, but they are also kinder to the environment.
Denna Bowman, Head Office