Study finds worn tyres can increase stopping distance by 7 times more than drink-driving
The study, carried out by the Centre of Automotive Industry Research, found that consuming alcohol increases your reaction time by 18% or 120 milliseconds on average.
At 70mph, this could lead to an increased stopping distance of 12.4 feet.
The difference in stopping distance between tyres in ‘good’ condition and worn condition with 1.6mm tread is an additional 89ft – up to 36%. A car with this level of tread is technically legal and would pass an MOT.
Professor Peter Wells of the University of Cardiff and Halfords, who commissioned the research, said the study demonstrates that the current legal limit on tread is far too low.
Professor Wells states: “When we began the research, we didn’t know which of the two factors – alcohol or worn tyres – would have the largest impact on stopping distance as the data have never been compared before.
To demonstrate that worn tyres increase stopping distance seven times more than alcohol is a significant finding. The research also highlights how dangerous supposedly legal tyres are when it comes to grip levels. In my opinion the current legal limit is too low.”
“Braking distances are an indicator of general levels of grip. So, if worn tyres increase braking distances by a third, we can reasonably assume that general levels of grip in the tyres are reduced by this amount too.
Therefore, worn tyres will also have a significant impact on car control on the road in other situations, such as cornering. This means it is more likely that you’ll lose control of the car in the first place if you have worn tyres.”
Halfords, which conducts over 800,000 MOTs in the UK each year added that it advises UK motorists that their tyres are dangerously low on tread, but many drive away assuming it must be fine if they are within legal limits.
Graham Stapleton, CEO of Halfords, added: “The reality is that their safety is already significantly compromised, and this will only increase as they experience more wear. Any tyres that receive a warning are likely to be illegal with just a few thousand more miles of motoring.
A tyre with just 1.6mm of tread could be one small lock-up or pothole away from being illegal and this could even happen on the way back from the test centre, but the tyres may not be checked again until their next MOT.”
“This study clearly demonstrates that current tread limits are just too low given how much grip is reduced, even when within legal limits.”
During an MOT, Tyres and wheels will be inspected to check their condition, security, tyre size and type as well as tread depth.
You should always ensure that your tyres are in good order, but particularly in the winter months. You need to ensure that your tyres are not worn and the tread is within the legal limit.
Although legally, your tyres must be 1.6mm, when driving in winter, try to keep the tyre tread at least 3mm deep. This will give you more grip on the road, and more control of the car.
As well as checking the thread, check for cracks and bulges, particularly if your tyres are older.
You can be fined a lot of money if your tyres are not in working order, not to mention it being dangerous, so it is essential that you check them properly and replace them if required.
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