Since 1992, the minimum legal tyre tread depth in the UK has been 1.6mm. But is it time for this figure to be revised?

Halfords certainly think so. Following the publication of a new study, conducted by Professor Peter Wells at Cardiff University’s Centre for Automotive Industry Research, the retailer has issued a fresh call for the legal limit to be revised.

The study compared the stopping distances of vehicles fitted with ‘barely legal’ tyres with those fitted with tyres in good condition (4mm of tread).

It found that, in wet conditions, stopping distances increased by as much as 90 feet at 70 mph. 

Commenting on the research, Halfords CEO Graham Stapleton said: “We need to get a grip on tyre safety. The current legal limit for tyre tread depth is too low and it’s putting millions of motorists at risk.”

“Every year we advise huge numbers of UK motorists that their tyres are dangerously low on tread, but unfortunately many drive away assuming that, if they’re legal, they must be fine. But the reality is that their safety is already significantly compromised, and this will only increase as they experience more wear.

“Any tyres that receive a warning are likely to be illegal with just a few thousand more miles of motoring.

“A tyre with just 1.6mm of tread could be one small lock up or pothole away from being illegal and this could even happen on the way back from the test centre, but the tyres may not be checked again until their next MOT.

“This study clearly demonstrates that current tread limits are just too low given how much grip is reduced, even when within legal limits.”

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