Although drivers' education classes may address the issue of tire wear, it may be surprising to learn that tires can become unsafe well in advance of wearing out. In fact, reports indicate that grip can be reduced dramatically when tread has worn less than 50 percent. Statistics also indicate that an estimated 50 percent of vehicles on the road have one or more tires with less than half of their tread remaining. At least one of every 10 vehicles has a minimum of one bald tire.
Motor vehicle accidents can be the result when worn tires are used in poor weather conditions. For example, hydroplaning can occur due to a lack of tread. As a tire skims the water, a vehicle's control is lost. Snow can be another serious situation for the motorist whose tread is low. The standard for determining excessive wear has long been the depth of 2/32 inches. A tire with this minimal amount of tread is defined as bald. A new tire has 10/32 inches of tread. However, experts indicate that it may be wise to replace tires at 4/32 inches to minimize the risk of an accident.
In addition to monitoring tire condition, a motorist can become more familiar with driving issues and behaviors that can minimize dangers during bad weather. A tire may vary in the number of miles traveled before the tread reaches the halfway point. However, regular rotation allows a professional to assess tire condition. Additionally, it is helpful to remember that faster driving can lead to an increased risk of hydroplaning or snow-related accidents with low-tread tires.
An individual who is injured in an accident involving a motorist whose tires are bald may wonder about who bears responsibility for the incident. In some cases, an evaluation of vehicle maintenance records might demonstrate a lack of caution after a warning about tire condition, and personal injury litigation might be appropriate.
Source: Consumer Reports,"How safe are worn tires?", April 2014