Wheely big issue
Matt Joy reveals the importance of looking after your tyres
The weather’s turning and leaves are falling, and while it’s never the most popular of subjects, tyre safety is paramount during the colder and wetter months.
Unfortunately, many drivers pay scant regard to tyre safety, as I experienced myself on returning to my car just a few days ago.
I spotted a very common sight these days – a very bald tyre. Not on my car, of course, but on the worn out-looking Peugeot parked next to me. It was clearly illegal, and verging on downright dangerous. I wondered whether to leave a note, and also whether my advice would be met by thanks or otherwise.
Just then the owner of the Peugeot arrived. She got in and began to reverse away – and I noticed a child’s car seat in the back. That was reason enough to intervene.
I approached her open passenger window and asked, in the politest and most non-confrontational tone I could muster, if she knew she had a bald front tyre. “No, I didn’t”, came the friendly and receptive reply. I wondered if she’d noticed why it took three quarters of a mile to stop from 30mph in the wet.
“It’s really quite bad, definitely illegal and that’s three points if you get caught,” I said. Keen to avoid giving a lecture, I tried to frame it in a legal way to inject a sense of urgency. She thanked me and promised to get it looked at, before driving off.
Of course, what I’d really wanted to say was that, with a tyre in that condition, she was putting her own life, that of her family and other road users at a huge risk.
Stopping distances increase dramatically with worn tyres. Research by Continental Tyres has shown that tyres with less than 3mm of tread have dramatically reduced grip, never mind something approaching a racing slick. In wet weather a worn tyre is much more susceptible to aquaplaning and, as anyone who’s experienced it will know, once that happens you just have to sit back and wait for the grip to come back. Scary.
We all have a responsibility to drive in a manner that keeps us and our own passengers safe, and is mindful of other road users, but arguably there’s an even greater requirement to ensure that our cars are fit for purpose too. There may be a wide range of driving abilities on the road, but the one relative constant is the ability and safety of the modern car. It’s our greatest safety asset and is therefore worth keeping that way.
How often do you check your tyres?
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