Motorists lives at risk by driving on unsafe tyres

Australia’s knowledge of tyre safety has been rated as terrible, with motorists putting lives at risk by driving on dangerous tyres.


That’s the damning verdict of a new survey which has revealed that 40% of drives are unaware of legal tyre safety standards and almost one in three have driven on tyres they suspected were unroadworthy. The same number also admitted they have been fearful of an accident while driving on worn tyres.


Consumer research company Canstar Blue questioned more than 1,600 motorists who have purchased car tyres in the last 18 months and found that one in five drivers don’t know how to check if their tyres are too worn, while one in four are unclear as to what the correct air pressure of their tyres should be.


“It’s deeply concerning to discover just how many drives are uninformed about legal tyre safety standards, but are still willing to get behind the wheel of their car,” said Canstar Blue spokesman Simon Downes.


“Not only are they putting their own lives in danger by driving on worn tyres, they are also putting other road users at risk. Tyres seem to be one of those things that some drivers rarely consider and put to the back of their minds.


“Drivers also risk insurance claims being voided in the event of an accident if their tyres are worn. Insurance companies could potentially reject a claim if you haven’t maintained your vehicle in a roadworthy condition.”


Female drivers are twice as likely as males to be unaware of tyre safety standards and almost three times as likely not to know how to check their tread depth. And the younger a driver is, the less likely they are to know the basics, the survey found. Just over half of Gen Y survey respondents said they didn’t know about legal tyre safety standards.


While Australia’s lack of tyre safety knowledge is a national concern, drivers in Victoria are the most clueless, with 47% unaware of legal standards.


What are the dangers of driving on worn out tyres?

Russell White, founder and CEO of the Australian Road Safety Foundation, says all motorists should be aware of safety standards and regularly check their tyres.


“No matter how good the car you’re driving is, its overall performance is governed by the tyres you have on it and the grip they provide,” he said.


“For proof you only need to watch a motor case to see how quickly a driver will slip down the field, or worse slip off the road, once the tyres are past their best. Yet it is not uncommon for road drivers to continue driving on their tyres long after they are worn out.


“Drives would think more about them if they understood more about the job tyres do and the vast quantities of water a tyre has to deal with during a heavy shower just to keep you on the road.


“Depending on the severity of the rain, a tyre will have to push away anything from 4 to 9 litres of water per second as you travel along a highway at 100km/h. If a tyre is worn out, the tread cannot adequately disperse the water at the contact patch and a film of water will be sandwiched between the tyre and the road surface. And once this happens, the grip totally disappears.”


Tyres fitted to a vehicle, which do not have tyre wear indicators, must have a tread pattern at least 1.5mm deep. If the tread has worn down to any of the tyre wear indicators, or there is less than 1.5mm tread depth on the tyre, then it is considered to be unroadworthy.


Don’t pay the price for cheap tyres

The Canstar Blue survey also found that 48% of drivers delay buying new tyres for as long as possible, while 23% tend to buy the cheapest tyres available. But that, according to Mr White, could be a big mistake.


He said: “I understand that for some people the cost of four new tyres can be a strain on the household budget, but skimping on this could have life-threatening implications.


“Tyres are arguably the most influential item you can fit to your car. They can literally transform the way the car feels and performs, so investing in the best tyres for your vehicle is a wise move. Tyres are your connection to the road and ultimately, your safety. Invest in your tyres as if you’re life depends on it – because it does!”


Car tyres star ratings

When it comes to buying tyres, the life of that tyre is the greatest driver of customer satisfaction, followed by the quality of handling, the survey found. Michelin tyres was the only brand to record five-star ratings in both these areas and claimed Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award alongside Pirelli. Both brands earned five stars for value for money and overall satisfaction.


Car tyre retailers star ratings

Car tyre retailers were also rated, with Tyrepower coming out on top of the pack for its quality of tyres, speed of tyre fitting, and the biggest driver of satisfaction – point of sale service. It was the only retailer to collect a five-star rating for overall satisfaction and earned Canstar Blue’s Most Satisfied Customers Award. Meanwhile JAX Tyres also scored top marks for point of sale and after sale service, while Goodyear was the only trader to earn five stars for value for money.


The Canstar Blue survey found that a whopping 72% of respondents are wary of being ripped off when buying tyres, while 30% claimed they have been ripped off.


“Consumers turn to the professionals for guidance when buying new tyres, and put their trust in them to offer expert, sound advice,” said Canstar Blue spokesman Simon Downes.


“Motorists don’t mind paying a good price for tyres if they get quality service and know they are going to get their money’s worth. Ultimately, consumers want tyres that are going to last – so they can put them to the back of their mind for another couple of years.”


13 March 2015.