Over Half of UK Tyres Borderline or Illegal at Replacement Point, According to TyreSafe Survey

The results have been revealed of a recent and highly comprehensive study conducted jointly by TyreSafe, the UK’s tyre safety charity, Imperial College and National Highways has revealed a concerning trend: over half of the tyres replaced in the UK are found to be borderline or illegal in terms of tread depth and safety at the point of replacement.

The survey examined over half a million tyres at the point of replacement across the UK. This includes establishments offering maintenance repairs for various vehicle components, including tyres, exhaust systems, and brakes. The study’s data sources predominantly comprised national franchise operations with multiple outlets per region, ensuring a representative sample of the country’s motoring landscape.

This eye-opening data underscores the urgent need for increased awareness and action, especially on the cusp of Road Safety Week next week, regarding proper tyre maintenance and safety practices among motorists. The dataset, when compared with a similar, but smaller study in 2016 reveals a 10.8% improvement, nationally, in the number of tyres illegal at replacement, but also demonstrates that there is still work to be done to raise the profile of tyre safety.

Key points of the survey include:

– Tyres were surveyed at the point of replacement, offering a snapshot of their condition when they were deemed unfit for further use.

– The study categorised the data by vehicle type (passenger cars and light commercial vehicles) and region.

– Data collection took place from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023, providing a comprehensive overview of tyre conditions over a 12-month period.

– A total of 549,558 tyres were surveyed, representing approximately 15% of all tyres replaced in the specified timeframe.

– Notably, data related to Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) and Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) tyres was not included, as these are categorised as a separate, specialist group.

The survey’s approach prioritised anonymity and confidentiality in data collection:

– Data was provided by both TyreSafe members and non-members under the assurance of anonymity.

– Only TyreSafe’s steering committee received regular updates on the survey’s results on a monthly basis.

– Participants contributed data as part of their routine operations, ensuring the accuracy and authenticity of the collected information.

– The study’s design prevented any indication of expected outcomes from being communicated between TyreSafe, its representatives, and the participants.

Extrapolating the data to reveal the potential scale of the issue on the roads:

– Given that approximately one tyre per vehicle is changed annually, the study’s findings are extrapolated across the entire vehicle parc.

– With an estimated 36 million cars and light commercial vehicles (LCVs) on the road, around 36 million tyres are changed each year.

– On average, this translates to approximately 3 million tyres replaced per month and around 100,000 tyres replaced daily.

– During the 12-month survey period, an estimated 36 million tyres were replaced across the country.

– The surveyed 549,558 tyres constitute about 15.2% of all tyres replaced in Britain during that period.

This landmark study sheds light on a pressing issue and underscores the critical importance of tyre safety education and regular maintenance. TyreSafe remains dedicated to advocating for safe driving practices and raising awareness about tyre maintenance, saving lives and resources for all road users.

TyreSafe is issuing a call to action, urging all drivers to A.C.T. on tyre safety:

Air pressure – The air pressure of each tyre should also be checked using an accurate gauge. Typically, car manufacturers recommend two different tyre pressures, one for light loads and another for when the vehicle is fully loaded. It’s essential that drivers adjust the pressures to accommodate the load they are carrying. These settings can be found in the vehicle handbook, on reputable internet tyre pressure charts such as the one at tyresafe.org, and often in the vehicle’s fuel filler cap or door sill.

Condition – with a visual check, looking at the overall condition of each tyre to see if anything might have penetrated the tread, such as nails or other objects. If any of these objects, cracks or bulges are present, the driver should seek professional advice immediately.

Tread – drivers should check the tread of their tyres to ensure they are above the UK legal  tread depth minimum of 1.6mm. Ideally an accurate tread depth gauge should be used but if this is not available, a 20p coin can be used as a guide. Insert the 20p into the main sections of the tyre and at various points around the circumference – should you see the outer rim at any point, you need to have the tread depth checked as it may be illegal.

Stuart Lovatt, TyreSafe Chair said, “The statistics are alarming, and continue to drive home the stark and very real danger of driving on defective tyres. As we approach Road Safety Week, drivers should be reminded that tyre safety should be a year-round commitment. It’s not just about avoiding penalties and reducing fuel wastage but crucially about saving lives. Checking your tyres once a month, every month and before long journeys can make a significant difference on our roads.”

To download the full study, please visit https://www.tyresafe.org/tyresafe-tread-depth-survey-2023/