Tired tyres? Taxi and private hire drivers reminded to check their tread as bad weather sets in

Taxi and private hire drivers have been reminded to check the condition of their tyres after roadside checks flag up vehicle defects.

A number of licensing authorities, working closely with local road and traffic police, have recently run a number of roadside on-the-spot checks to examine the condition of drivers and their vehicles, including taxis and private hire, in the lead up to the colder, wetter, winter weather.

The latest drivers in the UK and Ireland who underwent stop checks were those in Co Kilda, where in excess of 600 motorists were tested.

Amongst those were taxi drivers, with one having his vehicle taken off the road with immediate effect because of a badly over-worn tyre, which was practically bald.

Police have advised all taxi ad private hire drivers to regularly check the condition of their tyres, stating: "Checking your legal tyre tread depth is one of the most important checks you can make on your taxi."

Liverpool City Council have also prompted all drivers to examine their tyres after two taxi drivers were suspended in the space of a week for 'excessive wear' of tyres.

Driving with tyres which don't meet the minimum safety tread depth could set you back thousands in some cases, with fines of up to £2,500 and 3 penalty points a real possibility.

What is the legal tyre tread depth?

The legal tyre tread depth for cars in the UK and Europe is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre, according to law.

The tread must meet this minimum requirement across its complete circumference.

What is the expert-recommended minimum tyre tread depth?

According to the RAC, tyre and safety experts believe the 1.6mm legal minimum is insufficient to guarantee safety – most recommend a minimum tread depth of 3mm for tyre replacement.

Tests by UK technical organisation MIRA found that, once tyres are below 3mm, stopping distances increase dramatically.

The difference in wet braking distance between a tyre worn to 3mm and one worn to 1.6mm can be as much as 44%. Worn tyres are particularly dangerous in the wet because a tyre’s tread helps disperse water away from the contact patch between tyre and road.

If there’s less tread depth, less water can be shifted, increasing the risk of aquaplaning and losing grip. In heavy rain, each tyre can shift one gallon of water every second, illustrating just how hard tyres work. Simply put, deeper tread means they can work better, improving grip.

How to check tyre tread depth – the 20p test. The 20p test is a simple, quick and easy way of checking the tyre tread of your car's wheels.

Just take a 20p coin and insert it into the tread grooves on the tyre. If you can't see the outer band on the coin, your tyres are above the legal limit.

However, if you can see the band and that section of the coin is still visible, your tyres could be unsafe and require professional inspection by a mechanic. The RAC suggest drivers conduct the 20p test around every two weeks and before long journeys.

Image credit; Gardai Police

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