Safety campaign highlights the simplicity of tyre checks


October’s tyre safety month is underway and 7 year-old ‘mechanics’ Kyanne and Finlay are urging drivers to take the 20p test in order to stay safe and legal. The pair’s appeal can be seen on the tyresafe website where they show drivers just how simple and easy it is to check their tyre tread depth. Their plea comes just days after the Department for Transport published its latest road casualty report which reported that more than 200 people were killed or seriously injured (KSI) in the UK in 2009 as a result of an accident where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor.
“Checking that your car’s tyres have adequate tread depth is extremely simple and easy,” explains Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “As our two ‘mechanics’ demonstrate in the campaign movie, you don’t need any specialist tools or knowledge. A simple 20p coin and a few minutes is all it takes. With such potentially devastating and life-changing consequences, drivers should ask themselves if they can afford not to take the test?”
To take the 20p test drivers need to simply insert a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of their car’s tyres. If the outer rim of the coin is covered by the tread, this indicates sufficient tread depth to be safe and legal. If the outer rim of the coin is visible, drivers should have their tyres inspected by a qualified professional.
Adequate tread depth is critical to road safety, particularly in wet conditions as the tread grooves help to remove water from the road surface. Without sufficient tread depth drivers may suffer from a loss of grip or traction leading to longer stopping distances, reduced handling and an increased likelihood of aquaplaning.
Current UK law requires car tyres to have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters of the tyre, around its entire circumference. Drivers found to be in breach of these regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.
Driving on illegal tyres remains a significant problem in the UK. Figures obtained by TyreSafe through a Freedom of Information request, show that in 2009/10, 2.3 million vehicles failed their annual MOT test where ‘tyres’ was one of the reasons for referral. Insufficient tread depth was a significant part of this, with 1.6 million MOT tests failed because the car’s tyres did not meet the 1.6mm requirements. Additionally, the number of drivers successfully prosecuted by courts in England and Wales during 2008 for driving on defective tyres rose by 14 percent to more than 4,300 convictions. “Drivers really should sit up and take note of Kyanne & Finlay’s sound tyre safety advice,” continues Jackson. “Every single driver whose car failed its MOT because of illegal tyres can count themselves fortunate that they did not become another unnecessary KSI statistic. Taking the 20p test just once a month will take drivers just a few minutes and will help reduce MOT failure rates, but more importantly help to keep even more drivers safe and legal on the road.”
In addition to the online video, hundreds of garages and tyre retailers across the country will be offering free tyre safety checks.

How to take the 20p test

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

– A 20p coin provides a useful alternative to a calibrated tread depth gauge.

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

– If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible whenever you insert it into the grooves, 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.

If in doubt, visit your local garage or tyre dealer.

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