As the credit crunch takes hold, figures from the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) reveal that of nearly 60,000 cars checked in January 2009 by its retail members, 7,000 were being driven on at least one illegal tyre. This could amount to 3.6 million cars in the UK whose owners are at risk of causing serious road accidents. The disturbing findings are reflected by a survey conducted by TyreSafe, revealing that nearly one in ten motorists expects to spend less on tyres in 2009 compared with last year.
“When you consider that there are over 30 million cars on the UK’s roads, learning that one in ten motorists admits they plan to spend less on tyres shows an alarming lack of awareness among drivers towards their own road safety and the safety of the others,” comments Rob Beddis, chairman, TyreSafe. “Many tyre dealers have indeed reported that more drivers are letting their tyres run below the legal tread depth before they replace them as they feel the financial pinch. This is a worrying trend which sadly may result in more accidents and road deaths as a result of the loss of grip and longer stopping distances associated with illegal tyres.”
The TyreSafe research reveals that motorists in London are most likely to decrease their spend on tyres in 2009 with one in ten drivers expecting to spend less, while drivers in the East Midlands have the most responsible attitude towards replacing tyres, with less than three percent expecting to spend less on tyres over the coming year.
During 2007 more than 1,000 accidents occurred on the UK’s roads where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor, resulting in the deaths of 43 motorists. Under the current law, car tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band throughout the central three-quarters of the tread width and over the whole circumference of the tyre. Motorists found to be driving on illegal tyres face a maximum penalty of three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre.
“Drivers who delay changing their tyres beyond their legal life not only risk causing a serious accident but could also face a false economy,” continues Beddis. “Fines of up to £10,000 and 12 penalty points mean that drivers could suffer serious financial hardship or even risk losing their job. Drivers must re-evaluate their priorities and ensure that their tyres remain safe and legal.”
Motorists who are unsure if their tyres need replacing are encouraged to visit their nearest tyre dealer who will give them a visual inspection. Drivers are also reminded that correct tyre maintenance can help prolong the life of tyres. Tyres pressures should be checked at least once per month when the tyres are cold and against the manufacturers recommended levels which can be found in the vehicle handbook. When checking pressures, drivers should also give their tyres a quick visual inspection to look for any bulges, lumps or cuts and also remove any stones and other objects embedded in the tread.
For more details about tyre safety visit www.tyresafe.org
TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the dangers of defective and worn tyres. TyreSafe has campaigned consistently to underline the importance of tyre safety for more than 15 years and was rewarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in 2001. TyreSafe receives positive support from many major tyre manufacturers and retailers, and has been credited with reducing the number of defective tyres in the UK over the past decade from 18% to 12%.
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