Illegal Tyre use on Roads Increases

Tyre condition latest figures

In the February 2012 edition of the magazine, we published tyre data provided by Micheldever Tyre Services Ltd showing the residual tread depth on tyres taken off vehicles when motorists had their tyres replaced. Such information, taken over time provides a good indication of how far worn motorists allow their tyres to become before replacement – as we saw, the figures then were not very encouraging for advocates of improving road safety. The latest data shows that nothing has improved.

The graph, provided by Micheldever Tyre Services, shows that since last September, the number of illegal tyres removed from vehicles has remained above 50%, and the number of tyres with less than 2mm tread depth is increasing.

A thickness of 2mm has been selected as a ‘safe norm’ as compared to the legal and MOT minimum of 1.6mm, because research within the tyre industry has shown that when a tyre wears to an extent that the average tread depth is below 2mm, stopping performance, especially on a wet road, is seriously reduced.
As the graph shows, during November 2009 over half of all the tyres removed had less than 2mm average tread depth. This fell to 30% in September last year, when it was at its lowest, but has now risen to over 40% in June this year, with the graph pointing in the upward direction towards that 50% level.

The most alarming finding, however, is the number of illegal tyres removed from vehicles, which, up to their removal, were on vehicles being driven on the roads. Between June 2008 and November 2009 less than one in five tyres removed were below the legal limit. Now, however, that has significantly changed. Between September 2011 and June 2012, the level never went below 50%. At the same time, the number of tyres removed with their tyre tread depth above 2mm has gradually reduced from about 35% in June 2008, to around 5% in June 2012.

This tread must pose a serious threat to road safety. The MOT Trade Forum have made a strong recommendation to Officials at the Department for Transport that the minimum tyre tread depth should be increased to 2mm – these figures clearly show that with the increasing trend for motorists to run their tyres until they are illegal, any increase in the legal minimum tread depth must made a disproportionately high contribution to road safety. Unfortunately, Transport Minister Mike Penning has rejected the MOT Trade Forum’s suggestion.

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