Driving with illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres was to blame for more than 40 per cent of vehicle defect-related deaths in 2013, according to the Department for Transport.
Dangerous tyres were cited as a contributory factor in 968 cases out of 2,855 casualties, with 45 per cent of tyre-related casualties happening on A roads. The South East of the UK was the worst offender, representing 23 per cent of all instances.
Safety organisation TyreSafe has urged drivers to check the condition of their tyres ahead of Tyre Safety Month, which will see ‘thousands’ of retailers offering motorists a free safety check during what is typically the wettest month.
TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson commented: “The latest figures are very worrying and sadly reflect a general attitude of indifference by many drivers towards checking their tyres regularly.
“As the only part of your car in contact with the road, it’s vital that your tyres are looked after correctly and inspected regularly to ensure they will work properly in emergency situations when they are needed most.
“Driving on safe and legal tyres is important all year round, but especially so as we approach the winter months. Without adequate tread depth your tyres will not be able to cope properly on wet roads, and if we have a repeat of last year’s record levels of rainfall, we could well see even more needless tyre-related injuries which could have been easily avoided.”
UK law stipulates that a tyre must have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread depth. A fine of £2,500 and three penalty points can be awarded for each offending tyre.
There were 1,713 road deaths in 2013. The latest Department for Transport figure represents a two per cent drop on 2012 and the lowest figure since records began in 1926.
Take a digital trip to TyreSafe.org for more safety information or to find out where you can get a free tyre check during October. Failing that, stick a 20p piece in the main grooves. If you are unable to see the outer band of the coin, you are in the clear. If not, it’s time for some new rubbers.