Worn tyres an avoidable death trap

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Tyre factors were listed as a cause in 60 fatalities during this period, with 36 of these deaths attributed to worn tread.

370 people also suffered injury in the timeframe from the same cause, out of a total of 707 injuries.

“This statistic is a reminder that motorists should check tyre tread depth regularly and not just when their warrant of fitness is due,” said General Manager of Tyres4U, Perry Scarfe.

“It can be done with something as simple as the head of a matchstick and takes less than a couple of minutes. It’s a small time investment to make every week, considering the implications of an accident can be so huge.”

The unlit end of a matchstick is typically four millimetres long, which provides a good initial indicator of tread depth. To operate within legal requirements, tyres must be at least one and a half millimetres deep across three quarters of the tread.

Worn tyres not only impact the handling and responsiveness of a vehicle but greatly increase the risk of aquaplaning and impair wet braking performance.

Test conducted by Continental Tyres show that a reduction in tread depth of 5mm increases the stopping distance of a car travelling at 100km/h to 60km/h by almost 18 metres.

“This distance of just a few car lengths doesn’t sound like a lot, but in an emergency braking situation on the motorway it can mean the difference between a close-call or a serious accident,” said Mr Scarfe.

“Insurance excess amounts can typically be more than the cost of a couple of new tyres, not to mention the loss of a no-claims bonus, so the better policy is to check your tyres regularly and replace them as soon as the tread gets too low.”

Source: “Motor Vehicle Crashes in New Zealand