Drivers are being urged to check the condition of their cars before setting off on long journeys this bank holiday weekend.
National Highways – formerly known as Highways England – says motorists should ensure tyre pressures, ages and tread are all within recommended parameters, including the spare.
One in five motorway breakdowns are caused by worn or incorrectly inflated tyres, according to research commissioned by the government-owned body.
Yet the survey found only one in six drivers remember to check their tyres before setting off on a long journey, with a third confessing that they are not confident in how to do so.
National Highways also recommends drivers check engine oil, water, fuel and lights to reduce the risk of breaking down.
It comes ahead of a bank holiday weekend when almost 990 miles of roadworks will be lifted, meaning around 98% of England’s major A-roads and motorway network will be free from repair-related delays.
Traffic officer for National Highways, Dave Harford, said: “This is the last bank holiday of the summer, so we expect the roads to be busy with people looking to make the most of a long weekend.
“But the last thing anybody wants on the way to their destination is to have a vehicle breakdown.
“It’s really important people spend a few minutes checking the condition of their tyres before setting off.”
Mr Harford advises drivers to look out for cuts or wear over the full width of the tyres, not forgetting to check the sidewalls.
“Although the legal limit for tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, we recommend you don’t let the tread get that low”, he added.
“Changing the tyre at 2mm in summer and 3 mm in winter is good practice and maintains overall good tyre performance in all conditions.
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“To check your tyre pressure, visit most fuel and service station forecourts, which have an air machine for checking and inflating your tyre pressure.”
If you are stopped by the police and found with illegal tyres, you could receive a £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre.
Here are the simple checks recommended by National Highways:
- Tyres : Ensure tyre pressures are suitable for the load. Check the condition of the tyres, including the spare. Look out for cuts or wear across the whole tyre, including sidewall.
- Engine oil : Check oil levels regularly and top up if needed. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual.
- Water : Always keep your screenwash topped up with a good water ratio to maximise the cleaning efficiency. This can help clear debris or dirt off your windscreen easily.
- Lights : If your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. In addition, your vehicle may fail its MoT.
- Fuel : Before setting out, make sure you have enough fuel to get to your destination. Running out of fuel can put you, your family and other road users at risk unnecessarily.
If you experience problems with your vehicle and you cannot leave the motorway, you should always try to go left – to an emergency area, a hard shoulder, motorway services or slip road hard shoulder.
But if that is not possible and you have stopped in a live lane or feel your life is in danger, you must stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt and hazard lights on and call 999 immediately.
Drivers should also take a few minutes to plan their journeys in advance. Live updates on traffic flow where you live can be found on Traffic England, Traffic Wales and Traffic Scotland.
More information about how to check your tyres can be found here.
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