Ireland’s Fine: Bridgestone Calling on UK to Follow Tyre Lead

Low tread? Owe bread…

Let your tyres wear out too much and you should be facing mandatory fines. That’s what happens in Ireland now, with a Fixed Charge Notice of around £60 for motorists who drive with defective or worn tyres, and Bridgestone wants to see the same system introduced in the UK.

While there are penalties in place in the UK for driving on illegal tyres – including three points and a maximum £2500 fine per tyre – it is only seen as a summary offence and not mandatory, with all charges needing legal prosecution and very few being enforced.

For the sake of road safety, Bridgestone believes that a fixed fine will promote greater awareness amongst motorists of the hazards of driving with tyres that are not in roadworthy condition.

There is also an argument that the fines could generate funds to reinvest into general road safety.

“Because tyres are the only contact points between a car and the road, their condition plays a huge factor in overall road safety,” explains Bridgestone managing director, Robin Shaw. “There are literally millions of tyres on our roads which are illegal and pose a danger to other motorists’ lives.

“We think that a fixed charge notice would keep the issue firmly in people’s minds, whilst encouraging everyone to take some simple tyre safety checks which literally take seconds to carry out.”

There’s an assumption that most cars are legal, and that’s true. However, the scale of cars running with tyres below the legal minimum, a minimum that many agree is below any recommended safety minimum, is quite frightening.

TyreSafe in partnership with Highways England ran a survey of the tread depth of tyres at the point of replacement, from February to May 2015. The results showed that more than a quarter of all drivers had at least one illegal tyre on their vehicle, suggesting that potentially 10 million tyres on the roads of England, Scotland and Wales were dangerously worn last year.

By contrast, Ministry of Justice figures show that just 15,000 tyre-related convictions were made over the last three years, a prosecution level of just 0.0005% based on the estimate of illegal tyres in the UK.

“If a fixed fine, as is the case in Ireland, results in motorists checking their tyres and replacing as necessary, then it can only be a good thing,” continued Shaw. “The average stopping distance of a new tyre with 8mm tread depth is around 26 metres compared to around 38 metres on a worn tyre at 1.6mm tread depth. So it can literally be a matter of life and death.”

Are your tyres too low? To get a quick view on whether you need to replace your tyres, just take the 20p test. Simply place a 20p coin into the main grooves on your tyre. If the outer band of the coin is covered by the rubber, then your tread depth is legal. However, if some of the outer band is visible, then you may be beyond the legal minimum and a trip to a local tyre specialist is in order. Check each tyre carefully, and repeat each month, and you should avoid prosecution and stay safe.

Phil Huff

Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, DAD.info and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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