Your only contact with the highway

A worrying six out of ten people asked about the legal depth of tread required for a car tyre gave an incorrect reply, with a further one in ten motorists not even offering a guess, showing that drivers are not able to check their own wheels, visually, for wear or damage.

Very few drivers admit to knowing what tyre pressures should read when the tyres are cold – before commencing a journey – rather than having driven to a garage to use the airline.

Abi Clark, spokesperson for Green Flag Motoring Assistance Breakdown, says: "It is vital that motorists carry out regular maintenance checks on their cars.

"All drivers should pay particular attention to their tyre tread and tyre pressure to ensure that they are at the correct level. Ideally, tyres should have a 3mm tread and should be maintained with the pressure set at the correct level as shown in their car handbook."

Jools Townsend, head of education at Brake, says: "Many drivers are too reliant on their annual MOT and service and unaware of the deterioration that occurs to their vehicle over the course of a year."

A car travelling at 50mph has a stopping distance of 25.9 metres on brand new tyres with a tread depth of 8mm. By the time that tyres have been worn a little, to the depth which Brake are calling for to become the legal minimum, a depth of 3mm, the stopping distance has increased to 31.7 metres.

At the current legal minimum depth of tread of 1.6mm the stopping distance of the same vehicle has risen to 39.5 metres, or an additional distance equivalent to the width of the penalty box of a football pitch.

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