Drivers paying the penalty for defective tyres

Analysis has revealed that defective tyres account for a growing proportion of the total penalty points received by drivers for the poor condition of their cars.

The data, collected from from British police forces since 2013, examined the issuing of penalty points for vehicle defects over the past three years.

Analysis of the information showed that in 2015, 50 per cent of the defective vehicle offences for which drivers received penalty points were due to issues with their tyres – up from 40 per cent in 2013.

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The overwhelming majority of tyre offences were having insufficient tread, with 65 per cent of cases categorised as being below the legal minimum of 1.6mm. A further 2 per cent were stated as being below 1mm, and even more worryingly were the 26 per cent who were found by the Kwik Fit analysis to have tyres with the ply or cord exposed.

This analysis comes after a UK wide study by Tyresafe, in conjunction with Highways England, found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of tyres being replaced were already illegal with tread under 1.6mm at the point of replacement. Tyresafe, an organisation focused on raising awareness of tyre safety, estimates that 10 million vehicles could be driving on illegal tyres in 2016.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, who conducted the study says: “These figures reveal that some drivers on British roads are taking serious risks with both their own safety and the safety of other road users. We would encourage drivers to pay much closer attention to the condition of their tyres – after all they are the only things keeping their car connected to the road.

“There is absolutely no excuse for a tyre being worn down so far that its ply or cord is exposed – it will have gone past the legal minimum way before that point. If drivers are trying to save money on their motoring, then risking penalty points, a fine and higher insurance premiums by not replacing their tyres is not the best way to go about it.”

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According to the AA, you can risk invalidating your insurance policy by driving on damaged or worn tyres.

The motoring organisation says that to be considered ‘fit for purpose’ 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.

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• Not have a cut or tear in excess of 25mm or 10% of the sectional width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, and which is deep enough to reach the ply or cord.

• Not have any part of the ply or cord exposed

In the UK, the minimum legal tread depth for passenger vehicles, goods vehicles lighter than 3500 kg and trailers lighter than 3,500kg is 1.6mm in the centre of the tyre.