More than half of drivers don't know minimum legal tyre tread depth

Published 03 October 2019

More than half of UK drivers don't know the correct legal minimum tyre tread depth of 1.6mm, according to research by AA Cars.

The concerning news comes at the start of tyre safety month and shows that 62 per cent of the 20,000 motorists asked, either guessed incorrectly or simply didn't know. 

Six out of ten weren't aware that the maximum fine for driving with tyres below the legal minimum is £2500 along with three penalty points on your licence.

Worn or incorrectly inflated tyres pose a serious safety risk. A car with 1.6mm tyre tread will take 14 metres (that's 46 feet) longer to stop at a speed of 50mph compared to a car fitted with new tyres that have an 8mm tread depth.

Despite that, a Halfords survey found that 13% of motorists claim to have driven with tyres below the legal tread depth. 

Yet you can buy a tread depth gauge for as little as £1.50, while home tyre inflators start at little more £10.

>> Top 10: Best tyre inflators

Halfords also offers a free tyre check - comprising a pressure check and inspection for tread depth, wear and damage by ATA trained technicians 

Meanwhile, the AA Cars survey found that 7 per cent of motorists still believe that used tyres are just as safe as new equivalents. One in five believe that most used tyres sold in the UK comply with regulations.

A third of drivers believe used tyres are either more cost-effective than new ones or just don’t know whether new or used tyres offer better value. 

"The safety case for buying new tyres over used ones has been well-documented but drivers must understand the argument that part-worns offer better value for money is a fallacy too," says James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars.

"Secondhand tyres might boast cheaper price points than new ones, but the tread left on these tyres is typically materially less, meaning you’ll be looking for yet more replacements in no time at all. It’s also worth considering that a large proportion of the secondhand stock in the UK actually fails to meet the minimum legal safety standards."


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