TyreSafe, a UK tyre safety organisation, published the results of a survey in November 2013 in which over one third of young drivers between the age of 18 and 25 admitted they’d never checked the depth of their tyre tread.
Two out of three young drivers admitted to not having checked their tyre tread within the last month, the maximum recommended period between checks, according to the safety organisation.
And one quarter in the same age group also admitted to never having checked their tyre pressure, with three out of five saying they hadn’t checked tyre pressures in the last month.
Should young drivers have more training in car maintenance?
The alarming news highlights the need to educate young drivers in basic maintenance of their cars. Whilst the theory element of the driving test does require students to answer various questions about vehicle maintenance, very little practical demonstration is necessary.
Many young people who took part in the survey said they had never been shown how to examine the condition of their tyres.
Tyres with worn tread and tyres not inflated to the correct pressure exert much less grip on the roads, which can contribute to accidents.
Safety, legal and insurance implications of worn tyres
There is obviously a safety issue here. Young drivers are involved in more accidents than any other age group, with higher numbers of injuries and fatalities. Aside from the safety risks, however, there are other repercussions to consider.
Following an accident, if investigations reveal that worn tyres on a vehicle (beyond the legal limit) were a contributory factor, the insurance company might invalidate the driver’s policy, as it’s the policy-holder’s responsibility to ensure his car is in a legally road-worthy condition.
Imagine the scenario: a young driver, involved in an accident, his own car badly damaged and perhaps other vehicles involved, too. No insurance, to cover either his own car’s damage or to pay for the damage to a third party’s vehicle. It’s a bleak situation.
The bad news doesn’t end there. Drivers can be fined up to £2,500 and have three penalty points on their driving licence for driving on illegal tyres. Bearing in mind also that young drivers can face disqualification for racking up six penalty points within the first two years of passing their test – the equivalent of two worn tyres – and you see how precarious their position is.
There’s part of the practical driving test called “Show me, Tell Me”. The examiner will ask a question such as “How do you check the oil in the car or check the lights?” Pretty rubbish in our eyes.
Should there be a compulsory car maintenance course for learner drivers? Perhaps everyone involved in the motoring industry, from driving instructors to the highest levels of government, should invest in better education of young drivers about the need for regular vehicle maintenance checks.