Summer driving advice

Get a grip – AA urges summer drivers to avoid a tyre tragedy

  • More than 1800 killed or seriously injured due to tyre faults between 2013 and 2022
  • Ten per cent of drivers expect tyre age to be checked during MOT test
  • Nearly half of drivers don’t know where to check for the date of manufacture
  • AA attended 620,000 tyre faults last year – simple checks could help increase driver safety

15 May 2024

Drivers are being urged to ‘Get a Grip’ and check their tyres before setting out on long trips this summer. AA analysis reveals that tyre-related carnage could kill or badly injure around 180 of them this year.

Cracked and decayed tyre rubber and perished valve rubbers are often a factor in these incidents, particularly with vehicles that get used in the summer only and stand idle over the winter.

 Cracked tyre image

A survey of 13,8071 AA members a fortnight ago found that almost half (47%) of drivers wouldn’t know where to look if asked to check the age of a vehicle tyre with more than one in 10 (13%) expecting the age of their tyres to be checked as part of the annual MOT test.

The latest government statistics show that tyre defects were responsible for the death or serious injury of more than 18002 people between 2013 and 2022, this figure includes 323 motorcyclists.

Caravan and holiday trailer tyres are a particular issue with summer motoring. However, motorhomes have also come under the spotlight.

In March, a coroner’s Report to Prevent Future Deaths highlighted an incident in August 2021, that left a woman and two children dead3. The motorhome they were travelling in suffered a catastrophic tyre failure and collided with a stationary HGV. The coroner’s concern was that because “… adults and children over three years can travel in the rear areas of motorhomes without restraint …” that may have worsened a tragedy that started when “the front near side tyre unexpectedly deflated …”

“It is worth remembering that tyres are your number one safety asset as they keep you on the road.”
Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust Director

As the show and camping seasons get underway, thousands of drivers will dust off their prized summer holiday and show vehicles and prepare them for the months ahead. Many of these vehicles only cover very low mileage each year which could easily lead to the age and condition of the tyres being overlooked. Such an oversight can come at a much higher cost than the inconvenience of a breakdown or impact on the family budget.

Last year, The AA attended more than 620,000 tyre-related faults. Many of these callouts could have been avoided by carrying out some simple checks before using the vehicle. Checks like confirming the date of manufacture of the vehicle's tyres, visually inspecting the tread and sidewalls for cracks and checking if the spare tyre (if available) is serviceable or if the wheel is heavily corroded.

You can find out how old your tyres are by checking for a code on the side of the tyre.

  • Check the sidewall for the letters DOT
  • Next to this, there’ll be a 4-digit number code
  • The first pair of numbers is the week of manufacture
  • The second pair of numbers is the year of manufacture
  • For example, 0720 means the 7th week of 2020.

Tyres manufactured after 2000 have a 4-digit code. If you see a 3-digit code, this means they were made before 2000 and should be replaced immediately.

Tyre date image

From February 1, 2021, it became illegal to operate a heavy vehicle or certain types of minibus with tyres more than 10 years old. Generally speaking, the same rule does not apply to smaller vehicles like cars, but we highly recommend getting your tyres replaced every five years to be safe.

If a driver is stopped and the vehicle tyres are found to be defective, the driver can expect at least three penalty points and a hefty fine.

Edmund King, AA Charitable Trust Director, said: “It is worth remembering that tyres are your number one safety asset as they keep you on the road. If more tyres were in better condition, they would be less likely to be affected by road debris and potholes. Checking your tyre pressures, treads and sidewalls for cracks is vital, when it comes to keeping your passengers and other road users safe.”

Matt Sims, Presenter of the Motorhome Matt Podcast, said: “Motorhomes and caravans are often stored for months on end without being moved. This can create a weak spot on the tyre. Check the side walls for bulges and if the outer wall is starting to whiten change the tyre. Remember too to check your wheel nuts. Ensure they are still done up tight. Tyre pressure is of course important too. It takes minutes to check each tyre before the season's first trip.”

Make a PACT to check your tyres regularly.

  • Pressure
  • Age
  • Condition
  • Torque

1Yonder received 13,807 responses from AA members to its online poll between the 15th to 23rd April 2024. Yonder is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

2Reported road collisions, vehicles and casualties tables for Great Britain - GOV.UK (

3Woman and two children killed in Yorkshire motorhome crash | Yorkshire | The Guardian

Shirley Hunt - Prevention of future deaths report - 2024-0156 (

Ellie Hunt - Prevention of future deaths report - 2024-0157 (

Tyre age – How many miles do tyres last? (