Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Dangers of Worn Out Car Tyres.*


In 2011, my family and I were making the 400+ mile journey back to Edinburgh from my nanny's funeral in Salisbury. It had been a long day, and we were all more than ready to get home. At about 6pm, we were in the outside lane of the M6, surrounded by lorries and commuters, going at least 70mph while attempting to overtake. It was then that we heard a funny noise, like the sound your tyre makes when you accidentally stray into the hard shoulder - our tyre had blown. Within a matter of seconds, the car was out of control, swerving all over the place, before we crashed into the central reservation.


Thankfully we were all okay - we'd hit the barrier head on instead of side on, and miraculously, for the first time in hours, there were no lorries behind us. In fact, we all walked across one of the busiest motorways in the UK in such a state of shock that we didn't even check if anything was coming. We were all relatively unscathed, but it could have been a lot worse. 

It could also have been prevented.

Driving with worn out or damaged tyres is extremely dangerous, but it's not something that's often discussed, so when Point S asked me if I'd help them spread awareness about this issue, I was more than happy to get involved. We know not to drive under any intoxicating influences because it impairs our ability to control the vehicle, but we don't often consider the importance of having roadworthy tyres. According to TyreSafe, in 2010, 1210 motorists were injured in tyre-related accidents. It's so much easier to not check tyre pressure, to not worry too much when you bump in and out of potholes, or when the tread on your tyres is looking low, but it's these kinds of things that led to that situation for my family on the M6. If we'd taken better care of our wheels, we would never have come so close to serious harm.


Tyres are the only part of the car in direct contact with the road; if someone is driving with worn out tread grip is reduced and braking distances are increased. That might not sound very scary, but now imagine having to brake heavily, in wet conditions, with tyres that have next to no grip. In August 2016, a young father from Essex lost his life in a collision with a van when he tried to do exactly that. Shockingly, research by the AA in 2015 showed that 65% of female drivers and 36% of male drivers continued to drive with unsafe, worn out tyres. Not only does that put the driver and others around them in danger, they can be fined up to £2500 and given 3 penalty points - per worn out tyre!

So how can you stay safe on the roads and prevent an accident?


As someone who spends a lot of time in the car travelling around Scotland, I am now much more aware that these machines need a bit more effort than jumping straight in and going. There are a few basic things you can do that will really improve your safety - definitely worth taking an extra couple of minutes to complete these tasks before you set off.

First thing is something so quick and easy that none of us has an excuse for skipping it - check your tyres for damage. Make sure there are no suspicious cuts in the rubber and no weird bulges as these can indicate internal damage. If you do find anything that looks a bit dodgy, get it checked out ASAP.

Next is something we are all told to do, but perhaps 'forget'... check your tyre pressure regularly! Not "I'll leave it till the warning light flashes" regularly, more like "every two weeks and before any big journeys" regularly! Not only is this really important for you safety, it'll help with your fuel economy - bonus! Under-inflated tyres can affect the handling of your car, and can also lead to tyre blowouts. Perhaps if we'd checked this prior to our 400-mile trip home we would have avoided the crash...

Lastly, make sure (double sure, triple sure) that your tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm. While the legal requirement is 1.6mm, it's better to be safe than sorry! According to the RAC, the difference in stopping distances in wet conditions between a 3mm and a 1.6mm tread can be up to 44%. Please don't just wait for your MOT when it comes to this; you should be checking your tread monthly. A lot of us aren't too confident when it comes to judging this, but it's really not that scary. You can check your tread depth with purpose made gauges (such as this one that you can buy from Halfords for a tenner - it also checks your tyre pressure!), by checking the tread wear indicators on the tyres themselves, or by using this neat little trick: insert a 20p coin into the grooves of the tyre. You shouldn't be able to see the outer band of the coin - if you can, your tyre tread is too low.


If your tyre tread is too low, you'll need to replace your tyre. I know, this isn't anyone's idea of a fun purchase, and they can be pricey, but it's something you really need to do. Again, you're at risk of picking up some severe penalties (that are a lot more expensive than a new tyre!) if you don't, and that's the best case scenario. Taking someone's life, or losing your own, just because you didn't want to buy new tyres would be a tragedy.

Some people replace their tyres with cheap, second hand used tyres. However, this can be really dangerous. TyreSafe found that a large majority of these pre-owned tyres were being sold illegally, with 34% of them having potentially dangerous issues. Unless you really know what you're looking for, it can be hard to tell which used tyres are safe, and because they've already been used, they by default already have a shorter tread depth! It's always best to go to a tyre specialist and buy a brand new one to keep you protected.


Luckily, Point S have you covered. When it's time to get a new set of rubber, you can get tyres in Scotland at cheap prices from Point S. They have locations all over the country, and have brilliant offers from brands like Continental, Pirelli, Michelin and Dunlop. Their website even allows you to search for the tyres you need just by using your registration number, making the whole process much easier for newbies like me! You can buy online and then book into your local branch to get them fitted by a specialist.

Tyre safety is easy to overlook, but with just a little bit of maintenance and care you can improve it dramatically. Most of these take less than two minutes out of your day and will help to stop you from finding yourself in a potentially life threatening situation. It's always better to be safe than sorry, as I've now learned!

Have you ever had a tyre-related accident? Or are you guilty of not checking your tyres enough? Let me know in the comments!
*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Point S.
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2 comments

  1. This is such a well written and well researched post, Beth! Props to you! I'd been driving for a few years before I fully understood why tread depth is so important and now it's something I do check a lot more regularly! I'm so glad that you escaped your accident unscathed and that you're raising awareness with this post!

    Abbey 🦋 www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

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    1. Thank you Abbey! It genuinely is something I consider all the time - I'm terrified of another accident like this one! xx

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