Equipment donation helps police forces target illegal drivers


Five police forces from the north-west of England have been presented with thousands of tyre tread depth gauges in a bid to help them tackle those driving on illegal tyres.

The presentation from tyre safety campaign group, TyreSafe, comes in responses to a Freedom of Information request which found that just 35 per cent of police patrol cars are equipped with a tread depth gauge, which is used to determine if a car’s tyres meet the minimum tread depth requirements.

“Many drivers are intentionally choosing to run their tyres longer than ever before, often taking them below the legal minimum requirements,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “This is a great risk to road safety and we support our police forces in trying to tackle this issue, but without the correct equipment, it is very difficult for them to detect and deal with this neglect.”

Current UK regulations require car drivers to have at least 1.6mm of tread depth across the central three quarters of their tyres, around its entire circumference. Drivers caught failing to comply with these regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

Adequate tread depth is important for drivers’ safety on the road as the tread grooves help to evacuate water from the contact patch between the tyre and the road surface. By doing so, it allows the car to brake, accelerate and corner safely.

“Last winter was the wettest on record so if this year is anything similar, it’s essential that drivers ensure their tyres are safe and legal, ready to cope with the worst possible conditions,” adds Jackson. “We’d like to see all drivers in the UK complying with tyre safety regulations out of a respect and understanding for their existence and we’ll be working hard in conjunction with our police force partners throughout October’s Tyre Safety Month to continue this education process. However, it’s important that our police forces are properly equipped so that they can exercise their full powers towards those individuals who display signs of wilful neglect.”

Motorists who do not own a tread depth gauge of their own are being encouraged to take the 20p test once a month to ensure their tyres are safe and legal. To take the test simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of a tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted into the tread, the tyre meets the minimum legal requirements. However, if the outer band is visible when inserted, the tyres may be unsafe or illegal and should be inspected immediately by a qualified tyre professional.

Alternatively, drivers can visit one of the thousands of workshops offering free tyre safety checks as part of October’s Tyre Safety Month campaign.

To find out more about tyre safety, the 20p test or the location of your nearest workshop offering tyre safety checks, visit here.

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