Survey shows large number of illegal tyres on Britain’s roads

Highways Reporters

Up to 10 million tyres on Britain’s roads could be dangerous and illegal, according to results from a survey conducted by TyreSafe in partnership with Highways England.

This figure equates to potentially up to one in every four cars and LCVs[2] of the 35.3 million vehicles on Britain’s roads having an illegal tyre at some time during the year.

TyreSafe, the UK’s not-for-profit tyre safety organisation, is reiterating its long standing message about simple tyre safety maintenance, and is urging all drivers to check their vehicle’s tyres, making sure they are not adding a substantial and avoidable risk to both themselves and other road users.

The findings come from the most comprehensive survey across Britain’s tyre industry to date, which collated data on the tread depth of tyres when they are replaced. With the legal minimum at 1.6mm, tread depth plays a decisive factor in braking and steering especially in the wet. Research has demonstrated that the braking distance from 50mph to standstill in wet conditions increases by more than the length of a full-sized shipping container (14m) when using worn tyres rather than new ones, which dramatically raises the chances of a collision.

TyreSafe believes the main reason so many millions of motorists are taking risks with their tyre safety lies in a lack of awareness and driver education.

“TyreSafe does not believe millions of drivers are intentionally putting others at risk – it is more a question of educating motorists to take responsibility for their safety and that of others on the road,” said Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman. “As vehicles have become increasingly reliable, owners have become less used to performing what were once considered basic precautionary checks before setting off on a journey. Tyres too are much more technologically advanced but they do wear and can get damaged so it is down to the driver to regularly check they’re safe.

“The evidence provided by the TyreSafe survey underlines what we already feared - awareness among Britain’s motorists’ of the importance of tyre safety urgently needs to improve.”
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