With many families taking a break in the school half-terms, TyreSafe (a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of correct tyre maintenance and the dangers of defective and worn tyres ) is reminding mums, dads and all drivers to ensure they’re keeping the risks to a minimum by practising #SafeTyreChecks.
October is typically the wettest month of the year and coincides with the onset of colder weather, a combination which places high demands on the only safety feature of a vehicle which is in touch with the roads – its tyres. Most drivers are unaware that each tyre’s ‘footprint’ is about the same size as an adult’s palm, and with so much literally riding on them it’s essential to check they are in optimal condition.
“Drivers need to remember that brakes, steering and all advanced safety systems designed to help avoid accidents depend on the vehicle having a sure footing on the road – in other words, their tyres need to be in good condition,” said Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe. “As we’re now facing an increasing number of cold and wet days, to stay safe we need to be even more attentive to tyre maintenance. Air pressure, condition and tread depth must be checked regularly, especially if you’re planning a break using a car laden with your most prized possessions – your family.”
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Many drivers are aware that recommended tyre pressures for a vehicle vary to suit the weight of the load it is carrying, but far too many are complacent and don’t take the time to make this important adjustment before they set off with their families. Typically, the unladen and laden pressures are on a plaque either inside the fuel filler flap or in the door shut, but they are sure to be found in the handbook. Incorrect pressures not only increase wear and decrease fuel efficiency but also make the tyre more vulnerable to sudden deflation.
A tyre’s tread depth is a particularly important factor in cold and wet conditions as the more worn it becomes, the longer your car will take to stop. Checking is easy and takes just a few minutes using the 20p test as the outer band of a 20-pence piece is 1.6mm, which is the minimum legal tread depth.
To check how close you are to that limit, place the 20p in the main grooves in the centre section of your tyre: if you can’t see the outer band above the tread, then check at two other points across the width and repeat at two more places further round the circumference. If you can see the 20p’s outer band at any point or are unsure, you need to get the tyres checked by a professional as the tyre maybe illegal and dangerous. If you something in the grooves, like a stone, remove it if you are able to do so.
While you’re checking the tread depth, you should also ensure the tyres are in good condition, looking out for cracks, lumps, bumps or embedded objects. Tyre manufacturers don’t produce tyres with bulges or screws in them, so if you see anything suspiciously out of the ordinary, get it checked by a professional.
TyreSafe recommends these checks are done at least once a month and before long journeys.
The onset of winter weather is the reason why TyreSafe runs its annual Tyre Safety Month campaign in October. A photo contest on the facebook.com/tyresafeuk page and @Tyresafe Twitter channel provides another incentive to Britain’s drivers to conduct these routine checks with the chance to win up to £300 of tyres. To claim that prize, entrants simply post a photo showing where they last did their tyre safety checks along with a caption.