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Drivers advised to follow the ‘blue light’ lead on tyre replacement

Drivers advised to follow the ‘blue light’ lead on tyre replacement

Motorists should follow the example of the emergency services when it comes to tyre replacement, according to Kwik Fit, the UK’s leading automotive servicing and repair company.  

Only 16% of the UK’s ‘blue light’ services allow the tyres on their emergency vehicle fleets to go below 2.5mm of tread before being changed, despite them remaining legal to 1.6mm.  

In fact, new research from a Freedom of Information request made to all police forces, NHS ambulance service and fire and rescue services revealed by Kwik Fit revealed that on average the emergency services changed their vehicle tyres at a tread depth of 2.74mm. 

The research showed that almost three quarters (73%) of the UK’s police, fire and ambulance services changed their vehicles tyres at a tread depth of 2.6mm to 3mm.  

At the upper end of that 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. However, a total of 10% of forces go beyond that, changing vehicle tyres between 3.1-3.5mm (6%) and 3.6-4mm (4%).  

The findings reveal that of the 95 organisations responding to the request, two thirds (67%) had a formal policy in place, while the remainder (33%) had an accepted practice.  

The ambulance services had the strictest protocols, with 73% having a formal policy laid down. 82% of the ambulance fleets either mandated or recommended tyres were changed at a tread depth between 2.6mm and 3mm.  

That compares to 68% of fire brigades and 66% of police services having a formal policy, and 73% and 71% of the services enforcing or recommending tyres were changed between 2.6mm and 3mm respectively.  

The study covered a total emergency vehicle population in excess of 42,000 across the UK giving, what Kwik Fit called, “an accurate representation of the immense focus the emergency services place on tyre condition”.  

The findings, Kwik Fit said, were “very encouraging”, given the significant effect tyre tread depth have on braking distances and road holding in wet conditions, however that was something which was neglected by many motorists, said the company.  

Previous research by Kwik Fit found that one in eight (12%) drivers never checked their tyre tread depth on a regular basis. However, the company says that it is vital that motorists start getting into the habit of regular vehicle safety checks, similar to those carried out by the emergency services.  

Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit, said: “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.  

“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.”