Halfords attributes this decision to the alarming state of UK roads, which they claim have reached unprecedented levels of wear and tear due to a combination of the cost of living crisis and insufficient public funding allocated for road maintenance.
Data collected by Halfords reveals a concerning 71 percent increase in the number of vehicles with tyres either below or at the legal minimum tread depth, compared to the previous year. This suggests that approximately one in seven vehicles on UK roads, equivalent to around 4.2 million vehicles, now have illegal or near-illegal tyres, up from one in eleven the previous year.
Graham Stapleton, CEO of Halfords, acknowledged the financial struggles faced by millions of families and emphasized the company’s commitment to enhancing safety by offering deferred payment options: “We understand the financial challenges many people are currently facing, which is why we are assisting them in prioritizing safety now and deferring the associated costs until next year.”
Stapleton further explained the confluence of factors contributing to the current situation, stating, “We are witnessing a perfect storm of poorly maintained roads, resulting from the strain on public finances, combined with increasingly worn tyres due to financial constraints on individuals. It is more crucial than ever to make safety affordable for everyone.”
After conducting tyre tread depth readings on nearly 235,000 vehicles in April 2022 and April 2023, Halfords observed a rise in vehicles with red advisories (indicating a tyre tread depth of 2.0mm or below) from 3.8 percent to 6.5 percent, and vehicles with amber advisories (indicating a tread depth between 2.1mm and 3.0mm) from 7 percent to 7.8 percent.
The legal minimum tread depth requirement for car tyres in the UK is 1.6mm across the breadth of the tread. Tyres with low tread depth are more susceptible to punctures and blowouts and can negatively impact fuel economy, braking, and steering performance.
One of the primary reasons behind this issue is that two out of three motorists confess that the cost-of-living crisis has led them to postpone tyre replacements. RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis expressed concern over this trend, stating, “The cost-of-living crisis undeniably affects drivers’ ability to properly maintain their vehicles, so it is not surprising to witness a rise in the number of vehicles with worn tyres that are either unroadworthy or on the verge of being so.”
Dennis added, “Furthermore, drivers are increasingly delaying servicing and other repairs in an attempt to save money.” Alarming government data also reveals that defective tyres and brakes cause accidents every seven hours, with the situation likely to have worsened over the past year.
The World Economic Forum reports that the quality of road surfaces in the UK ranks among the worst in Europe, falling behind countries like Cyprus and only slightly surpassing Lithuania.
Furthermore, the Asphalt Industry Association highlights that local authorities in England and Wales received only about two-thirds of the necessary funds to prevent further deterioration of local roads last year. It estimates that over £14 billion is now required to address the backlog of carriageway repairs.