• More than one in ten admit to not knowing what ‘tread depth’ means
  • 89% of drivers do not know what penalty is for tyres with less than the legal minimum tread of 1.6mm
  • 18-34-year-olds most confident group when it comes to changing a tyre
  • Hidden cameras captured spoof wardens ‘clamping’ cars in campaign to raise awareness of the importance of tyre condition

In research carried out for Kwik Fit, the UK’s largest automotive servicing and repair company, only 25% of drivers stated that the legal minimum is 1.6mm.

The results show that 32.2 million drivers are unaware of the basic legal requirements when it comes to tyres. 40% gave an incorrect figure for the legal minimum tread while a fifth (20%) admitted they did not know.  Even more worryingly, more than one in ten drivers, (11%) said they didn’t know what tyre ‘tread depth’ meant.  4% of drivers said that it depends on the make of tyre – the reality is the minimum is 1.6mm for all makes of car tyre, from premium to budget.

Furthermore, the Kwik Fit research found that just 11% of motorists are aware of the potential penalty for driving with tyres below the legal tread depth.  Drivers risk three penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre if their tyres do not comply with the law. This means that a full set of illegal tyres could see drivers losing their licence and facing total fines of up to £10,000.

In response to this research and to highlight the importance of regularly checking tyres, Kwik Fit sent out special tyre inspectors disguised as traffic wardens to ‘clamp’ cars with dangerously low tread depths.  Hidden cameras were set up to capture the reactions of the drivers on discovering the clamp.  The drivers’ emotions went from anger when they found they had been clamped, to concern when it was highlighted to them how low their tyre tread was, and gratitude that they had been saved from the potential of a costly penalty and awarded a free tyre for being a good sport.

Many drivers will be in the same position as the motorists caught on camera, as over 12 million say they check their tyre tread less often than every six months, with 15% of drivers admitting to never checking it. When it comes to other tyre checks, one in five (20%) of drivers have never checked their tyre wall condition and 12% have never checked their tyre pressures. Only 44% of drivers say they check the pressures in their tyres at least once a month.

By not checking their tyres drivers could be more susceptible to tyre problems, which could leave many stranded at the roadside as 38% of drivers are not confident in their ability to swap a tyre on their vehicle for the spare.

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “These figures are alarming and prove we have a lot of work to do when it comes to tyre education. Tyre treads are designed to give good grip, which is especially important when the roads are wet. Without adequate tread, the performance of the tyre will decrease and ultimately affect the overall safety of the vehicle.  For all the safety developments car manufacturers are making, we have to remember that tyres are the only part of a car that are in contact with the road and so it is vital that they are in the best condition possible.

“There are simple checks, such as the 20 pence piece test, that drivers can perform themselves to ensure their tyre tread depth is legal. We are very sorry to those drivers who got a temporary shock in our clamping campaign, but we hope that this activity helps remind drivers to make regular checks on their tyres.  For anyone not confident in checking by themselves, our centres offer a tyre check service to give peace of mind to motorists.”

To get further information on tyre safety and Kwik Fit’s latest campaign, visit Kwik-fit.com or https://www.facebook.com/KwikFit/

For the latest news and updates from Kwik Fit, customers can also follow the company on Twitter at @kwik_fit.