Quentin Willson helps to cut road deaths and accidents with a ‘lifesaver in your pocket’


7thOct09Motoring journalist and television presenter Quentin Willson is helping to cut the number of deaths and accidents on the UK’s roads caused by driving on tyres with illegal tread depth.

As part of October’s tyre safety month, Willson is the face of a new online video demonstrating TyreSafe’s ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ initiative which encourages drivers to check their tyre tread depth to see if they are safe and legal with the use of a 20p coin. The video can be seen by visiting www.tyresafe.org or searching for ‘TyreSafe’ on video sharing site YouTube. “As we approach some of the wettest months of the year, it’s essential that drivers have sufficient tread depth to keep them safe and legal,” explains Willson.

“Without it, they could find themselves in a life threatening accident, lose their licence and face a heavy fine. The simplicity of the 20p test means that there is absolutely no excuse why anyone should be found driving on tyres which have illegal tread depth.”
Despite Willson’s support of the tyre safety initiative, recent figures released by the Department for Transport show that illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are the most common contributory factor for road deaths within the vehicle defect category.

In 2008, 34 motorists lost their lives as a result of an accident where defective tyres played a part, more than all of the other vehicle defects combined, including defective brakes, defective steering and overloading.
In the video, Willson demonstrates the startling difference in stopping distances on tyres with legal and illegal tread depth. In the first test, a car performs an emergency stop in the wet on tyres which have barely legal tread depth.

The manoeuvre is then repeated using tyres of the same make and pattern, only this time with tread depth slightly below the legal minimum. The outcome is an increase in stopping distance of 17 metres, or more than four car lengths, which could have devastating consequences.
“This graphic illustration of how tyre tread depth affects a car’s ability to stop is very compelling,” comments Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe.

“Cars can have the most advanced safety systems or be driven by the best drivers, but without properly maintained tyres it will not be able to stop properly in the wet. By taking just a few minutes every month to check the condition of your car’s tyres, drivers can make sure that they stay safe and legal.”
Adequate tread depth is essential to safe driving in the wet. The tread grooves help to evacuate water from the tyre’s contact patch with the road surface, meaning the car can brake, steer and accelerate in line with the driver’s demands.
The ‘lifesaver in your pocket’ campaign encourages drivers to insert a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of the tyre to check that it is safe and legal.

If the outer band of the coin cannot be seen when inserted into the tread, then the tyres have adequate tread depth. If the outer band is visible, then the tyres may not have enough tread and should be checked by a qualified tyre specialist.
Current UK law states that car tyres must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference. Drivers found in breach of this law can face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points per tyre.
Drivers who are unsure of how to carry out the 20p test or require further help should visit their nearest tyre dealer. Hundreds of tyre dealers across the UK are offering free tyre safety checks as part of tyre safety month. For more information visit www.tyresafe.org.

TyreSafe’s tips for checking tyre tread depth

– Ideally, tyre tread depth should be checked at least once a month at the same time that you check your tyre pressure.

– If you do not have a calibrated tread depth gauge a 20p coin provides a useful guide.

– Insert the 20p coin into the main tyre grooves at several places around the circumference of the tyre and across its widthz

– If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you check the tread, your tread depth may be illegal and you should have them checked by a qualified tyre specialist.

When checking your tread depth, give the rest of the tyres a visual inspection for any cuts or bulges and remove any stones or objects embedded in the tread.

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%.
TyreSafe is a signatory to the European Road Safety Charter which was launched in 2004 with the aim of halving the number of deaths on European roads by 2010.

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