Here's a new one. According to AutoExpress, police in the UK are looking into scanners embedded into roadways that can detect the depth of a vehicle's tire tread. If your rubber doesn't meet a set of pre-determined parameters, you could eventually expect to see a fine show up in the mail. Currently, law enforcement says that the technology will only be used in checkpoint scenarios to alert drivers of a potentially dangerous situation, but given that the system costs somewhere around €50,000, or $67,500 at current conversion rates, critics are concerned that the depth-measuring device will be used as a cudgel to drum up revenue.

That concern is bolstered by the fact that Trevor Hall, a major proponent of speed cameras in the UK, is also behind the measure.

We're all for improving road safety in any way possible, but if this new technology results in fines for motorists, we have concerns. After all, measures like the one proposed here would almost certainly target low-income drivers and unfairly position revenue generation on their shoulders. After all, if you can afford new tires, chances are better that you'll buy them.


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  • 96 Comments
      maclabop
      • 3 Years Ago
      Doesn't the UK already have this? It is called a yearly MOT inspection. Are you telling me that with all the things I had to fix to pass my MOT (ages ago when I lived there for a few years) that they didn't look at tires? Wouldn't it just be easier and cheaper to put one more check box on the form? I think this points out the fact that we are increasingly more reliant on technology thinking that it is always better and more reliable than the human method.
        tegdesign
        • 3 Years Ago
        @maclabop
        They defensibly checked tires. I lived there also for 7 years and I got dinged one year because they didn't think my tread would be good for a whole year to come. My impression was that the MOT regime was a racket anyway.
      Mr. ROBoto
      • 3 Years Ago
      No idea how this would be tested, but I would be pissed off if I received a ticket for low tread depth because I had a rock or mud stuck in the tread. Not sure if this would set it off, just assuming. I would prefer all cars on the road be safe, but that would require 95% of all drivers losing their licenses. I think a warning with a time limit to replace the tires and a mandatory inspection would suffice. Fines only after the time limit expires.
      AKJeeper
      • 3 Years Ago
      I thought that was the point of the MOT inspections they have in the UK - to ensure that vehicles that are registered for road-use are roadworthy? Why add another layer to this - it seems clear to me that this is another revenue-generating device added in the name of "safety". What will they think of next? Sensors that determine if you've got squeaky wiper blades?
        Myself
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AKJeeper
        Because tires are apparently being overlooked or some money change hands. The amount of cars with worn-out rubber on UK roads is staggering. To find a van with all four legals borders on impossible.
        AndyMidd
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AKJeeper
        Because the MOT test is yearly on cars over 3 years old. A lot of motoring can happen in 1 year. If you get caught with something that is a potential MOT failure, usually you get issued with a ticket that makes you get the item fixed and then inspected at an MOT certified garage. If you don't get it done within a certain amount of days, only then do you get fined. So I don't see this as being a huge revenue generating scheme.
      bh
      • 3 Years Ago
      "After all, measures like the one proposed here would almost certainly target low-income drivers and unfairly position revenue generation on their shoulders. After all, if you can afford new tires, chances are better that you'll buy them." It's expensive to operate a car that doesn't present a hazard to other motorists. I'd favor a warning over a citation, but you need to safely equip your car. I also think for many forgetful people who can afford the tires, it would be a handy wakeup call that it's replacement time.
      jcar302
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'd say this is unlikely to happen, there are just too many different types of tires available. There are plenty of DOT approved tires out there that would probably trip the sensor saying the tires are bald, but in reality there is just a huge piece of flat rubber across the center.
        creamwobbly
        • 3 Years Ago
        @jcar302
        ...and those would be illegal in the UK because there are specific limits to what tread patterns are allowed. So, I agree, before that tech could be put in place here, there would have to be similar Federally-mandated limits. I tend to think it would be a good idea, but I've only thought about this for a few minutes -- I'm no expert.
      Samuel Jih
      • 3 Years Ago
      Everybody read this! All this tire tread BS is a myth! Tire tread does NOT help with dry traction AT ALL. Tires without tread actually provide more traction from more rubber touching the road (DUH!). Ever thought about racing slicks? The only thing the tire tread is actually good for is rain, snow, gravel, etc. I really hope more people realize this simple fact. Not to mention that a tire could have perfect tread but be many times more dangerous than having low tread, from rubber that has aged and lost its characteristics.
      Living4bliss
      • 3 Years Ago
      Speed cameras, red light cameras and now this. If the technology fails, you cannot fight it. This is just aweful. Fight it with all your might.
      LUSTSTANG S-197
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's crap like this that undermines law enforcement agencies and governments in general. And they wonder why so many hate them? I guess taxes aren't enough, so they have to find other ways to get people's hard earned money.
      Myself
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bring it on! And enforce it until those idiots with worn-out tires bleed their wallets on fines and then on 4 pieces of road-worthy rubber. And it should go together with legislating another good: Britain is the only country that I know of that allows 4 different tires on a single car. If all are say, 16 and 205, everything is OK. You can have 4 brands, 4 threads, 4 speed indices... What about bringing the UK to the club of civilized motoring countries and made a legal requirement of having the same tires on an axle?!
        Krishan Mistry
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Myself
        I find it cool yet disturbing that it is legal to technically have a winter tyre and summer tyre on one axle, and an R comp tyre and bald worn out tyre on another. Think about the instability issues!
      ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      peolpe with bald tires, propley cant afford new ones. so fines are not gonna help them get new tires.
      SpikedLemon
      • 3 Years Ago
      YES YES YES... BRING IT HERE! SETUP CHECKPOINTS!!! I'm sick and tired of being limited on the highway by the speed of the idiot with the worst set of tires somewhere ahead of me. Or, worse yet, being stuck in a traffic jam because said idiot exceeded the speed his tires could handle in the rain and hit something/someone.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SpikedLemon
        How do you know it's their tires? Do you have the eyes of a hawk? It could be a light foot, a slow car, a timid driver, etc. that could be causing that idiot to hold up traffic. Bringing this crap here would do nothing but cost tax payers an arm and a leg, and would likely be viewed by many as being intrusive.
        Gonzo_13
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SpikedLemon
        You're complaining about traffic jams caused by bad tires, but you're suggesting to setup CHECKPOINTS to check tire wear. Yep.... makes perfect sense. No traffic would be caused because of those checkpoints. DERP
          creamwobbly
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Gonzo_13
          Absolutely right. Did you read the article? This type of checkpoint doesn't require a stop. Derp yersel'
        GearheadGeek
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SpikedLemon
        And you think that governments will increase speed limits because they can better police tire condition? How'd that investment in the Brooklyn Bridge turn out for you?
      MikeInNC
      • 3 Years Ago
      This smells like another way for an already financially hemorrhaging government to collect more money wrapped up in an "it's good for you and makes you safe" wrapper.
        Myself
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MikeInNC
        A worn-out tire is a hazard. Full stop. Period.
          Synthono
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Myself
          And how is a fine going to fix that? Answer, it won't, it'll just make people who are putting off buying new tires put it off longer, continuing the hazard. If they took the car to the nearest tire shop and forced you to buy new ones, that's dealing with a hazard. Fines don't.
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