Did speed cushions damage the tyres on my wife's Ford Focus?

I'd like to pick up on two things that you constantly bring to the fore: speed cushions. My wife recently had her car MOTd and we thought it would sail through, as it is a very reliable, regularly used (about 12,000 per annum), regularly serviced Ford Focus. It was noted that the two front tyres had worn down to the wire on the inner walls (damage not noticeable to the casual observer). The tracking was out but there was still plenty of visible tread on the outer walls of the tyres that had only covered a relatively low mileage. Thank goodness for regular servicing and MOT checks.

I can't be certain but I can only guess that this sort of damage is a result of speed cushions. My wife is a teacher and there are speed cushions in and around the school where she teaches. The majority of my wife's journeys are commuting to and from school, she does do the occasional motorway trip and this could have ended very nastily.

Left-foot automatic braking. I switch regularly now between an automatic and manual transmission and fully endorse the idea of left-foot braking. I have two instances (some years ago now) that happened to me. Albeit fairly minor, these could easily have been more serious. I was inexperienced in driving an automatic and going uphill, went to change down gear, subconsciously I put my left foot heavily down on the brake (trying to find the clutch) not a comfortable way to stop a car. Fortunately I was the only person on that stretch of road. The other time I did the opposite and in heavy traffic, driving a manual I put my foot on the clutch thinking it was the brake and slowly rolled into the car in front (tow bar) more damage to my car and my pride. The discipline of Left-foot braking, I believe would have prevented both these instances occurring.

I have done both ROSPA and IAM tests but I am far from complacent and feel that, even having completed these tests, I am now out of date and would benefit by doing them again. It would be nice to think that instead of spending money on speed humps and cameras, some money could be made available for education and training. But at nearly 50, I know this won't happen for all sorts of reasons. Keep up the good work.

Asked on 22 October 2010 by DC, Somerset

Answered by Honest John
Yes, the damage to the inner tyre shoulders was almost certainly caused by abrasion from the chamfered edges of speed cushions. I could not agree more with your comments about left-foot braking and driver education rather than punishment. And, of course, at low manoeuvring speeds, when most automatic 'accidents' occur, left-foot braking is unlikely to put your passenger through the windscreen.
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