Halfords urges drivers to kick the kicking habit

The 1 April didn’t fall this week, so survey results shared by Halfords Autocentres – which include the gem that 32 per cent of all people believe kicking a tyre is an adequate means of gauging inflation levels – must be the awful truth. The survey of 1,000 motorists, conducted by Atomic Research on behalf of Halfords Autocentres in September, also revealed that 24 per cent of motorists don’t know how to check if tyre tread depth is above or below the legal limit.

“It’s surprising how many people actually use this test but unfortunately kicking a car tyre will tell you absolutely nothing about its roadworthiness,” commented Rory Carlin from Halfords Autocentres. “Whether you drive a Ford or a Ferrari the only thing keeping you in contact with the road is your tyres, so it’s vital that they are given a thorough visual inspection at least once a month to check for damage or objects embedded in the tread as well as tread depth and correct inflation.”

More men than women attempt to test tyres by kicking them – with 42 per cent compared to 30 per cent confessing to the useless practice – though both sexes are equally ill-informed about what emergency solutions they have in their car boot to assist in the event of a puncture. One in eight (12 per cent) of all drivers who took part in the research study did not know whether their car had a full size spare wheel, a space-saver wheel, or just a temporary puncture repair kit – highlighting the fact that they had never bothered to check. In addition, only 14 per cent of surveyed drivers considered fitting winter tyres during the colder months of the year – compared with 27 per cent of French and 85 per cent of German motorists. Legislation in Germany admittedly propels the high rate of winter tyre uptake there.

Carlin added: “The legal minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre’s width – which is easily checked using handy markers that are built into the tread itself by most manufacturers, or comparing the depth against the border of a 20p coin. However, for added peace of mind drivers should really consider renewing tyres when they have 3mm of remaining tread – which can increase your stopping distance by an extra 8 metres in wet conditions – and fitting specialised winter tyres that will stop two car lengths quicker on snow-covered roads from 30mph.”

Halfords Autocentres points out that under or over-inflated tyres can cause a dangerous loss of grip and stability when cornering or braking and are also much more likely to suffer from a dangerous blowout. Under-inflation reduces the life of the tyre by as much as 25 per cent and fuel economy by up to five per cent, whilst over-inflated tyres are more susceptible to damage caused by potholes or debris.

The latest Department for Transport figures reveal that 194 drivers were killed or seriously injured in the UK in 2012 as a result of an accident caused by an illegal, defective or under-inflated tyre. They were also a factor in more than 1,100 road casualties in the UK during 2011. In addition to the obvious safety concerns, drivers who fail to comply with the law also face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre.

Halfords Autocentres is a member of the safety organisation TyreSafe, and offers free tyre checks at nearly 300 garages across the UK as part of its commitment to promoting vehicle safety.

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