Following our front-page news last month that the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) was to pursue follow-up investigations of heavy vehicle operators found using tyres that were over 10 years old (TO78), the government has announced it will consult on options to ban older tyres from use altogether.
Subject to the Department for Transport (DfT) consultation, the ban could cover HGVs, buses, coaches and minibuses, making it illegal for tyres aged 10 years or over to be used on such vehicles.
The proposals follow a research project commissioned by the DfT examining the impact of tyre age on safety, which saw the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory partner with a US laboratory to carry out testing and analysis. The results of this are expected to be published this spring.
The DfT is proposing the measures in the wake of the Tyred campaign, pioneered by Frances Molloy, whose 18-year-old son Michael was one of three people who died in a coach collision in 2012.
The crash, which took place on the A3 in Surrey, was caused by the failure of a 19-year-old tyre on the coach’s front axle.
Roads minister Jesse Norman said: “I want to pay tribute to Frances Molloy and the Tyred campaign for their brilliant campaign to ban older tyres on buses and coaches.
“I believe the changes we are consulting on will save lives. And I hope it will be welcomed by everyone who shares a commitment to making our roads safer, for the benefit of all.”
Following the accident, the DfT issued guidance in 2013 advising PSV operators against fitting older tyres to front axles. Since June 2017, the DVSA has inspected more than 136,000 buses and coaches, and found that only 0.06 per cent had breached the guidelines.
“Keeping people safe on our roads is our priority,” added transport secretary Chris Grayling.
“Emerging evidence and leading expert testimony shows us that we need to ban tyres over the age of 10 years from larger vehicles based upon the ‘precautionary principle’ – a move that will make our roads safer for everyone.”
Responding to the announcement, Christopher Snelling, Head of UK policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said: “Given the amount of mileage covered by a typical commercial driver, FTA finds it unlikely that many of our members have tyres that are 10 years old.
“FTA is committed to ensuring the highest safety standards are met across the logistics industry, and as such, is happy to work with the Department for Transport (DfT) on this consultation.
“If tyres are undertaking particularly low mileage, there may be a case for exemption, but this needs to be considered further.”
However, he added that FTA was “dismayed” by the decision to embark on the consultation prior to publishing the outcome of the research.
“The results of this research would help determine the correct policy position in this area, so issuing a consultation without this information seems a less than ideal way to get an informed response,” he said.
The DVSA’s Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness has recently been updated with the agency’s latest advice around tyre maintenance and monitoring. The agency also published further advice on the topic in January as part of its Moving On blog series.