Avoid penalty points and a heavy fine by checking your tyres

Our latest blog discusses minimum tread depth, unsafe wear and potential hazards of driving with poorly maintained tyres.

At DAVIS, we include a roadworthiness check in our Grey Fleet and Fleet+ modules, which includes tyre checks. Checking your tyres for safety takes just a matter of minutes. All employers should encourage their drivers to perform these checks regularly.

There are two simple requirements to remember:
– Tyres must remain fit for use and should be free from any defects which might impair vehicle safety or endanger any person.
– Tyres should be inflated to the right pressure according to load and regularly checked to ensure they remain at the correct pressures.

Bald or defective tyres offences
Driving with a bald or defective tyre is illegal by virtue of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 (as amended). Regulation 27 sets out the obligation and lists several exceptions. In the case of buses (including minibuses) and goods vehicles, an additional prohibition against tyres that are older than 10 years on the date of driving was introduced by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
For commercial businesses, there are other consequences associated with bald or defective tyres. A number of these faults will allow vehicles to be detained at roadside and may result in additional fines or actions by the Transport Commissioners.

What is ‘fit for purpose’?
The Construction and Use Regulations state that tyres should not have any part of the cord of ply exposed, or any cuts/tears which are bigger than 25mm or 10% of the width of the tyre (whichever is greater). Tyres should not have any visible bumps or bulges as this could indicate structural damage.
Your vehicle will fail its MOT if the tyres have any of these faults or if you have tyres of different sizes on the same axle.

What is the right tyre pressure?
The manufacturers’ recommended tyre pressure can vary according to tyre size and load, so we would always recommend sticking to the pressures recommended by both your vehicle manufacture and/or the tyre manufacturer. For many vehicles this information may be found on the petrol filler cover, affixed to a door pillar or on the door sill. The recommended pressures will also be found in the owner’s manual. Having your tyres inflated to the recommended pressure will not only improve your fuel efficiency but will also ensure the maximum contact between tread and road surface when braking.

What is the legal tyre tread depth?
The legal minimum tyre tread depth varies by each type of vehicle, most cars need at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band whereas larger vehicles and motorcycles over 50CC require 1mm throughout. Mopeds simply require a visible tread pattern on the tyre surface. Larger goods vehicles and passenger vehicles are subject to more detailed regulation. Further details can be found on www.gov.uk Tyre defects and damage: HGVs, buses and trailers.

What if I get into an accident with illegal or dangerous tyres?
If you are found to have tyres that are dangerous because they’re damaged or bald, you could be prosecuted for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition. The normal procedure will involve the issue of a fixed penalty notice.

For cars and light commercial vehicles this attracts a fine of up to £2,500 – that’s per tyre and 3 points on your licence. If all 4 tyres are found to be dangerous, you could be looking at a £10,000 fine and the points on your licence.

However, in the case of buses, minibuses, and goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, the rules are harsher. The fine becomes unlimited, and 3 points will be awarded for each defective tyre. The fact that the driver is in a company vehicle will be no excuse. The driver remains responsible for ensuring the vehicle they are driving is safe and roadworthy irrespective of ownership. With commercial vehicles, the company can also be fined up to £20,000 as the vehicle owner.

Check your vehicle is roadworthy... to avoid up to 3 penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre.

Will defective tyres invalidate insurance?
It will depend upon the circumstances. The most important document is the policy document itself: this may contain contractual terms that require the policyholder to maintain the vehicle in a ‘roadworthy’ condition. Bald or defective tyres will be evidence that that the car is not being maintained to this standard and is not safe for use on the road. Whilst this might not totally invalidate any third-party cover, it is likely to detrimentally affect the value of any sums paid out to the driver under the policy.

An almost certain consequence of a CU30 conviction on insurance will be an increase in any future premiums to be paid by the driver or their employer. The conviction is evidence of the driver’s negligence and indicates an increased risk for the insurer. Consumers must answer any questions posed by the insurer and failure to do so will amount to a misrepresentation. Most insurers will ask about unspent motoring convictions or changes in this respect when a policy is taken out or renewed. Businesses are equally under a duty to disclose relevant information to their brokers or insurers, and this will typically include unspent endorsements affecting the driver pool.

What causes tyre wear?
Tyres will simply wear out over time with repeated use, but some factors can increase the wear.
– Driving at higher speeds increases wear. This may lead to aggressive cornering and harsh braking too, which also contribute to tyre wear.
– Front wheel drive vehicles may notice their front tyres wear more quickly as these are responsible for the steering and the vehicle drive.
– Excess load increases wear, as does vehicle weight. Tyres on heavier cars will wear faster.
– Tyre pressure plays a crucial role in tyre wear too. Under inflation (through increased flexing and temperature) and over inflation (through reduced contact area) can both increase wear.
– Tyres will wear quickly and unevenly if the vehicle’s wheel alignment is wrong, or if suspension components such as shock absorbers are worn down.

Dangers of driving with a low tyre tread.
Driving on tyres with tread below the legal limit is both illegal and can be incredibly dangerous. It is also important to consider the weather conditions, as wet or icy roads have less grip than a dry surface. If your tyres are worn, your stopping distance will increase by up to 44%, and you are at a greater risk of aquaplaning too. Damaged tyres or those at incorrect pressure have a higher chance of getting a puncture or risk of blowout.

Whether you’re a grey fleet driver or a company car driver, you have a responsibility to check your vehicle is roadworthy, not only for the safety of yourself and the public but also to avoid up to 3 penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500 per tyre.

If you’re currently checking licences manually and would like to understand how DAVIS can save you time, effort, and costs by automating the process for you, get in touch to book a demo or request a quote. We include our road worthiness checks in our Grey Fleet and Fleet Management modules.