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Why Are Tyres Linked To 1800 Deaths A Year?

Author Name – Louise Helsby

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With something like 1,800 deaths each year on Britain’s roads – and approximately 1.25 million across the globe – is it any wonder that premium tyre and automotive technology manufacturer, Continental Tyres, is determined to bring this tragic waste of human life to an end?

Continental’s “Vision Zero” – their ambition to achieve “zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents” – is at the vanguard of driver safety initiatives. They’re at the forefront of automotive safety technology, continually investing millions in the research and development of ever improving driver safety solutions.

Popularly known for their world-leading tyres (they’re consistantly top of the table when the UK and global automotive industries undertake independent tyre tests) what’s less known about Continental is that they manufacture a multitude of unrivalled electronic driving technologies that are used by the world’s leading car makers.

If you drive a Mercedes-Benz, for instance, you’ll be monitoring your speed and tyre pressures on one of their high definition dashboards and consoles, and automatically parking your car thanks to their incredible 360° LIDAR sensors.

At National Tyres and Autocare we have a deep respect for Continental, since we provide many of our customers with their highly popular summer and winter tyres. Once fitted to their cars, it’s very difficult for our customers to use any other tyres, since – as the last ten years of independent tyre test awards have born out – they are, quite simply, the best.

And tyres take centre stage at Continental’s Vision Zero Live events across the country.

With six events held in 2017, private motorists and tyre retailers (including National) were given the opportunity to experience first hand the importance of good car tyres, and in particular the dangers of driving with tyres whose treads are too worn down.

Hosted at locations across the UK, Continental’s Vision Zero Live events featured dry and wet skidpans, set-up to demonstrate the differences in stopping distances when braking (at 50 mph) between cars fitted with brand new premium and cheaper tyres (featuring 8 mm of tyre tread), those with the minimum recommended 3 mm of thread, and those with (barely) UK legal tyre tread of 1.6 mm. With road surface conditions typically experienced by British motorists in place, dummy ‘human’ obstacles were added.

Tyre tread depth and stopping distances – the results


The results were a revelation, and – quite frankly – shocking. Continental’s brand new PremiumContact 6 tyres – with their full 8 mm of tread – performed superbly, providing drivers with much shorter stopping distances on both dry and wet surfaces, and successfully avoiding the dummies. This is the level of driver safety and tyre quality that motorists take for granted, but not all tyres perform the same…

Cars fitted with premium tyres that had 3 mm of tread performed well, successfully stopping before hitting the dummies, but it was a different story for cheaper tyres with the same tread, particularly on the wet surface. With their inferior compounds, these tyres just couldn’t provide the shorter stopping distances that the premium tyres delivered.

Most disconcerting was the performance of tyres with 1.6 mm of tread remaining. These barely UK road legal tyres struggled to come to a full stop without hitting the dummies on dry surface conditions, but worst of all completely failed to stop in time on the wet surface, striking the dummies. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to realise how disastrous this would be if this occurred on your local high street, or on a fast moving motorway, does it?

In fact independent tyre tests across the world show conclusively that in wet weather conditions it can take up to 14 metres longer for a car fitted with 1.6 mm tyre treads to come to a full stop, compared to one fitted with new 8 mm tyre treads. That’s the equivalent of about three car lengths!

And while these results were nothing new to the National Tyres team attending Vision Zero Live, they were quite an eye opener to the many private motorists at the event. It’s no exageration to say that they all pondered the consequences of driving with worn tyres, with the overwhelming majority insisting that they would check their tyre tread depth, and if necessary get new ones fitted immediately.

Talk to the experts – talk to National Tyres and Autocare


At National Tyres we believe – like all the world’s major tyre experts – that you shouldn’t drive on tyres with less than 3 mm of tread – period. While 1.6 mm may be UK road legal, we know from our many years experience that compared to tyres with more tread depth they simply aren’t fit for purpose. It’s why we recommend that you change your tyres long before you get anywhere near 1.6 mm of tread. We think this is so important that we offer a free tyre safety check to UK motorists, and it’s why we’re a leading member of TyreSafe, the UK tyre safety charity . If you’re unsure about your tyre tread depth, and want to ensure you can achieve the shortest stopping distances, contact your local National Tyres branch today. Our experienced tyre professionals can provide you with impartial advice, fitting solutions, and much more.

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