Drivers warned as police forces issue 25 times more fines for breaking certain motoring laws

Police pulling a car over

Only four police forces issued more fines for tyres than using a mobile phone

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 10/12/2023

- 08:00

Experts are calling for police forces to be more consistent with fines

Police forces around the UK are targeting drivers for some road infractions more than others, according to new research.

A new Freedom of Information request has found that some police forces issue 25 times more fines for using a mobile phone than for illegal tyres.

As a result of the cost of living crisis, many drivers are putting off getting new tyres, with experts warning that driving with worn tyres is becoming a serious problem.

Around seven per cent of all vehicles checked into Halfords garages have been found to have tyres that are below the legal tread limit.

WATCH NOW: Transport Secretary Mark Harper pledges to scrap anti-motorist policies

The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, although most tyre and safety experts recommend a minimum depth of 3mm for tyre replacement.

The FOI data found that Surrey Police issued 1,534 fines for mobile phone usage to drivers over the last year, while just 62 fines were issued to those with worn tyres.

Similarly, Cheshire Constabulary handed out 1,532 fines for people using their phone at the wheel, while just 83 fines were given for worn tyres.

People having unsafe tyres directly led to 137 accidents where someone was killed or seriously injured, with 531 total casualties.

A further 161 people were involved in accidents for being on their mobile, with 674 people being injured.

Despite a similar number of incidents and people being injured for both motoring offences, it appears that police forces are prioritising cutting down on mobile phone use rather than dangerous tyres.

Graham Stapleton, Halfords CEO, said: “The results show very clearly that police forces across the UK are taking the enforcement of the use of mobile phones at the wheels far more seriously than they are worn tyres.

“Mobile phone usage at the wheel is completely unacceptable and dangerous, make no mistake - but so are worn tyres.

“Tyres are the only thing that connects a vehicle to the road and the figures for deaths and serious accidents caused by worn tyres reflect this.”

Some police forces also appear to be doing the opposite, with North Yorkshire Police not issuing a single fine for phone usage although they did give out 75 notices for worn tyres.

It was one of just four forces across the UK - alongside North Wales Police, Merseyside Police and West Midlands Police – to issue more fines for illegal tyres than mobile phone usage.

Across the UK, five times as many fines were handed out for using a phone at the wheel (32,978) compared to illegal tyres (6,399).

Graham Stapleton continued, saying: “We understand that it is easier to spot someone using a phone than it is to check tyres.

“That’s why forces across the UK need an action plan for tackling this safety issue.


Car tyres

Halfords is urging motorists to ensure their tyres are road legal


“At Halfords we’re doing all we can to support this by offering a free tyre check to every motorist in the UK to ensure their tyres are legal.”

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