Kwik Fit: Blue light a good tyre care example
Although the legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm, only 16 per cent of the UK’s ‘blue-light’ services allow the tread on their emergency vehicles’ tyres to go below 2.5mm of tread before being changed. In fact, Kwik Fit claims that on average the emergency services change their vehicle tyres at a tread depth of 2.74mm.
Kwik Fit says 73 per cent of the UK’s police, fire and ambulance services change their vehicles tyres at a tread depth of 2.6mm to 3mm. At the upper end of this band, the tread is nearly double the UK’s legal minimum requirement of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread around the complete circumference of the tyre. Ten percent of forces go beyond this, changing vehicle tyres between 3.1-3.5mm (6 per cent) and 3.6-4mm (4 per cent).
The information published by Kwik Fit is based on the results of Freedom of Information requests made to every police force, fire and rescue service and ambulance service in the UK. A total of 95 organisations responded to the request; of these, 67 per cent have a formal policy in place, while the remainder have an accepted practice.
The ambulance services have the strictest protocols, with 73 per cent of respondents having a formal policy laid down. Kwik Fit reports that 82 per cent of the ambulance fleets either mandate or recommend tyres are changed at a tread depth between 2.6mm and 3mm. This compares to 68 per cent of fire brigades and 66 per cent of police services having a formal policy, and 73 per cent and 71 per cent of the services enforcing or recommending tyres are changed between 2.6mm and 3mm respectively.
More than 42,000 emergency vehicles across the UK are covered by the figures Kwik Fit quotes, an amount the company considers sufficient to give accurate representation of the immense focus the emergency services place on tyre condition. Kwik Fit views the findings as very encouraging, given the significant effect tyre tread depth has on braking distances and road holding in wet conditions, however it notes that this is something neglected by many motorists. Previous data published by Kwik Fit indicates that 12 per cent of drivers don’t check their tyre tread depth on a regular basis.
“The emergency services have the highest standards when it comes to safety and this is something all motorists should be trying to replicate. Checking tyre tread depth is often forgotten by motorists, yet it has a vital role in safety as our tyres are the only thing in contact with the road,” comments Kwik Fit communications director, Roger Griggs. “Our research has shown that the emergency services uniformly change their vehicle tyres at a much earlier point than the legal limit as a tyre’s performance starts to deteriorate well before it becomes illegal. When on a ‘blue light’ call our emergency services cannot compromise on safety, but we don’t think any other motorist should either, whether it’s a motorway run or just a trip to the shops.”
In addition to disclosing the above statistics, Kwik Fit shares that it provides free tyre checks at all its centres, inspecting general tyre condition, tread depth and pressure, as well as giving drivers advice on tyre care.