October is Tyre Safety Month, the annual reminder to make sure vehicles’ wheels are roadworthy.

Motorists using illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres can lead to serious outcomes and in 2019 contributed to 5 fatal collisions and 136 serious collisions according to figures from the Department for Transport.

Motoring charity TyreSafe, the driving force behind the initiative, highlighted the extent of the issue in 2016, commissioning research that revealed over 27% of the 340,000 tyres analysed were illegal due to inadequate tread.

Many police forces across the country support Tyre Safety Month and will be eagle-eyed when it comes to tyre inspections on routine checks.

Car insurance comparison experts Quotezone.co.uk are warning motorists could face another issue – both large fines and hikes to their insurance premiums if they drive with defective tyres.

Motorists can be fined up to £2,500 for each faulty tyre and receive three points on their driving licence. If the police see another tyre falling short of the law, it doubles to £5,000 and 6 points. Four faulty tyres could even see the maximum 12 points – resulting in the loss of a driving licence.

Commercial vehicle drivers, where the car or van is owned by their employer – could land firms with penalties of up to £20,000.

The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm. These grooves help to remove water from the contact patch between your tyres and the road surface meaning the car can brake, steer and accelerate properly.

Greg Wilson, Founder of car  insurance comparison website Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “While the complexity of insurance premium calculations makes it impossible to put a pounds-and-pence figure on it, on average three penalty points could result in a 5% jump in a driver’s car insurance premium, while six penalty points could see the cost of their insurance rise by a painful 25%.

“Also bear in mind that most driving convictions must be declared to insurance providers for five years – even if the penalty points are removed from your licence after four, so motorists with points on their licence could be hit year after year until they’re spent.

“With many cars being parked at home over the past year due to various lockdowns and people working from home, it’s possible tyres might be in better condition than normal, with fewer miles potentially resulting in less wear and tear. However, it is still crucial that drivers do proper checks before travelling – long periods without driving can cause its own problems such as issues with the battery.”

Quotezone.co.uk has created a Winter Driving Checklist, to help motorists prepare for travelling in the darker and colder weather.

  • Check that windscreen washers are working and topped up with water – the bottle may need emptied out if the car hasn’t been used, to unclog blockages from debris
  • Check the battery by going for a short trip close to home first
  • Check tyre pressure and that each tyre has more than 1.6mm of tread i.e. can hold a 20p in place
  • Check tyres for lumps, bumps or cuts and remove any stones and debris
  • Check oil levels
  • Check you have a breakdown kit – jump leads, safety triangle, torch with extra batteries, empty fuel can
  • Check you have a winter emergency kit – blanket, bottle of water, phone charger, first aid kit, de-icer
  • Check if your car insurance policy includes breakdown assistance and home start, and consider signing up for standalone breakdown cover if it isn’t included
  • If the car is electric, make sure you have a full charge before setting off – winter roads can lead to unexpected deters and delays. Ideally, keep a portable battery booster in the boot in case you need an emergency recharge somewhere unexpected.

Quotezone.co.uk is a pioneer of comparison technology and one of the leading car insurance comparison sites in the UK, with over 110 car insurance providers to choose from, helping 3 million people find better deals on their insurance each year.