Tyres – are yours legal?
by Fiona Taylor
UK law requires that your vehicle is fitted with the correct type and size of tyre for the vehicle type you are driving and for the purpose it is being used.
This means fitting the right tyres and for safety ensuring that they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
According to the results of a survey conducted by Tyresafe in partnership with Highways England, over 10 million UK motorists could drive a vehicle with an illegal and dangerous tyre this year.
They surveyed over 340,000 tyres as they were being replaced at 819 retail outlets.
What did the survey show?
On average 27% of the tyres they looked at were already illegal at the time of replacement. For safety reasons it is recommended that you replace your tyres before the legal limit is reached.
Tyresafe claim that this could equate to more than 25% of the 37 million cars and LCVs on the UK’s roads being driven with an illegal tyre.
In their survey the highest proportion of illegal tyres was found in Northern Ireland (36.5%). Whereas the lowest was found in England (26.5%).
20% of all drivers surveyed admitted to never checking the condition of their tyres.
What is the recommended tread depth for tyres?
The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of breadth of the tread and around its entire outer circumference.
In wet weather tyre tread grooves help to remove water from the contact patch between your tyres and the road surface meaning your car can brake, steer and accelerate properly.
Here’s quick video to show you how to check your tyres;
Without adequate tread depth your tyres may not be able to perform properly in wet conditions. Thereby reducing your safety on the road. It is therefore advisable to consider replacing your tyres well before they reach the legal minimum.
What happens if your tyres are not legal?
The maximum fine which a court can impose for using a vehicle with a defective tyre is £2,500. Plus three penalty points. (£5,000 in the case of a goods vehicle or a vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than eight passengers).
Any tyre fitted to a vehicle must be fit for purpose and furthermore be free from any defects which might damage the road or endanger any person.
Fit for purpose means that a tyre must:
- be compatible with the types of tyres fitted to the other wheels
- not have any lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of the structure.
- cuts and tears must not be in excess of 25 mm. Or 10% of the sectional width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, and which is deep enough to reach the ply or cord.
- and finally must not have any part of the ply or cord exposed
Check your tyres today, drive safely!