Research commissioned by the Department of Transport and published last week reveals ageing tyres suffer corrosion which could cause them to fail. The evidence also includes reports that in 2017, 17 people were killed and 147 people were seriously injured in road traffic accidents where illegal, defective or under inflated tyres were recorded as a contributory factor in the collision.
The Government is currently consulting on new laws banning old tyres on large vehicles including buses, coaches, lorries and minibuses in an effort to improve road safety. If supported, the new rules could come into force by early 2020. The consultation asks whether older tyres should be banned on large vehicles as well as if the ban should be extended to taxis and private hire vehicles.
What does the new law propose?
The new law is intended to improve road safety for all users by making it an offence to use tyres 10 years or older on certain vehicles. The Government’s current focus is on heavy goods vehicles and larger vehicles used to transport passengers but consideration to extend this legislation to taxis and private hire vehicles is also being undertaken.
What is the rationale behind this proposal?
The Department of Transport amended the safety guidelines of public service vehicles (buses, mini-buses, coaches etc.) following an inquest into a fatal crash causing three people to die and many more to suffer life changing injuries in 2012. The crash was caused by a tyre that was 19.5 years old.
According to Tyred Campaign, almost all leading tyre experts and vehicle manufacturers agree that tyres over 10 years old should not be used on vehicles. Some go as far as saying 6 years is actually the safe age limit. Yet, the Government has not passed any legislation to enforce tyre age limit rules.
What is wrong with old tyres?
Ageing is one of the biggest factors that adversely affect tyres. With oxidation and exposure to changing temperatures, certain rubbers can get stiff and its integrity becomes compromised. The effect of aging may not be visible, but the real problem lies on the inside of the tyre, which can lead to tyres bursting.
What do I need to do to make sure my tyres are safe to use?
- Check your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for tyre replacement for your vehicle. Some tyre manufacturers recommend replacing tyres that are between 6 - 10 years old, regardless of tread wear.
- A spare tyre, just because it hasn’t been used and the tread is not worn, it may be too old to operate safely.
- Remember that the effects of tyre ageing may not be visible, so do not rely on visual inspection to know whether the tyre may have degraded over time.
- For cars, try the 20p test to know your tyre tread. If the outer band of the 20p coin is visible when it is inserted into the deepest part of the tread, then your tyre is below the legal limit and it may be illegal and unsafe to use.
If your tyres are showing signs of age or excessive wear you can quickly review prices for new tyres, and get driving safely again.
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