FAMILIES setting off on British summer holidays are being urged to check the tread of their tyres after figures revealed more people than ever are driving with dangerous wheels.
A survey carried out by the AA earlier this year found that 15 per cent of drivers wait until their tyres are below the legal tread limit before changing them and that one per cent of drivers wait until their tyres are completely bald.
Matt Dickinson, a garage manager in Fareham, said he is seriously concerned about the rising number of vehicles with dangerously worn and illegal tyres,
Mr Dickinson, who runs Protyre Fareham in Russell Place, said a significant proportion of the vehicles he sees coming in for replacement tyres are either at, or below, the legal tread depth limit of 1.6mm, with some even bordering on being completely bald.
He said these drivers are severely compromising their safety and that of other motorists and pedestrians, as well as risking a £2,500 fine and penalty points on their licence for each offending tyre.
Mr Dickinson said: ‘Your tyres are the only part of the your car in contact with the road, so it’s absolutely crucial they’re in good health.
‘We have noticed a steady decline in the condition of tyres in recent years, but the problem is getting worse.
‘It’s very dangerous to drive on illegal tyres because they significantly harm the performance of a car, reducing the effectiveness of braking, steering and acceleration.’
Gavin Hill-Smith, from the AA, said the problem had got worse as people try to save money due to the recession and scrimp on either getting their tyres changed, or by buying cheaper tyres in the first place.
He said: ‘It is a genuine safety issue.
‘It is a contributing factor to accidents and it is not worth the risk.’
Data compiled from across Protyre’s nationwide network of tyre fitting centres showed that over half (56 per cent) of motorists drove to centres on illegal tyres, compared with just 15 per cent recorded in 2008.