3 November 2016

Young drivers and Continental’s ‘Vision Zero’ goal for tyre safety

If you’ve not heard of the brand name ‘Continental’, they make car tyres – and they’re very good at it. Founded way back in 1871, they’re now seen as the third biggest tyre company in the world1. Continental is actively involved in TyreSafe, the leading tyre safety organisation in the UK, and they’ve won a prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award, just like Carrot has.

Fair enough, the company’s main aim is to sell lots of tyres, but they’ve got another fantastic goal in mind, which they call ‘Vision Zero’, wanting to use their geeky knowledge of the braking process from pedal to tyre to achieve zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents. After all, the four tyres form the car’s only contact with the road beneath, which is a humbling thought, right?

Natasha Kaplinsky, whose name may ring a bell from presenting Five News on telly, hosts this very interesting Continental video on tyre safety, which may leave you wide-eyed and you’ll definitely find really useful:

Continental knows that ‘cars are becoming part of the internet’, with loads of companies working into the wee small hours each night to develop autonomous, driverless and ‘connected’ cars. Here’s another Continental video that’ll leave you pretty impressed. It’s only a minute long, so worth a whirl:

Anyway, back to Vision Zero, for which Continental has surveyed young drivers from all over the UK2. They’ve found that 4 out of 10 newly-qualified young drivers aged 17 to 24 admit they’re not safe on the road, saying they feel learners need to be taught more about road safety.

With around 9 people killed or seriously injured in a road accident involving a young driver, 70% of the young drivers quizzed said they’d like to see more education on road safety, while 36% agree that basic car safety checks should be a feature of the new driving test, and 38% would actually welcome tougher penalties for unsafe driving.

A shakeup to UK driving tests will soon see:

  • The ‘independent driving’ section increased to 20 minutes and to include using a sat nav
  • Outdated manoeuvres like reversing around a corner replaced with things young drivers will actually do, such as reversing into a parking space and getting back out again
  • Questions introduced on basic safety-related controls, like how to turn on the rear window heater so that you can safely see out of the back when driving3

Only 3 in 10 parents they surveyed knew what the legal minimum tyre tread depth is. Can you outsmart your folks and tell us the answer? A handy tip is to check the depth across the width of the tyre using a 20p coin.

Tyre Safety Week 2016 - 20p tread depth test

Just 20% of young drivers Continental polled know how to open their cars’ bonnets to perform basic safety checks like using a dipstick to make sure the oil looks okay, and a third didn’t have the foggiest idea how to top the screenwash up to be able to keep their windscreens safe, which is especially vital in the winter.

Quick tyre facts ‘n’ tips

  • The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tread, around the whole tyre
  • …but it’s advisable to change them well before that
  • It’s recommended that all four tyres are the same brand and pattern, helping the car handle and brake better
  • Using one brand and pattern for the rear tyres and another for the front tyres is slightly more acceptable
  • Keep your tyres inflated to the pressure stated in your car’s instruction booklet, using the machine at a fuel station, or a portable inflator
  • It’s good practice to use your eyes and fingers to check your tyres once a month. Notice any unusual smoothness or feathering, or does your steering wheel shake sometimes? This could mean they’re wearing unevenly because of possible suspension or wheel alignment issues. Time for a garage visit.


Why not take a few minutes to read Carrot’s blog posts on how to do basic car maintenance?

Part one: coolant, wipers, screenwash, lights + oil

Part two: tyres, battery, bodywork and brakes

Come find us on Twitter or Facebook and tell us any tyre or maintenance related stories you’ve got as a young driver

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.