The department of transport (DfT) has commissioned independent scientific research to study the safety of ageing tyres. Such research follows the death of three passengers in an accident involving a coach in 2012 where one of its tyres failed on its front axle.
Consequently, guidelines were issued by the DfT to all operators stipulating that tyres reaching 10 years of age not being used on steering axles and conditions if they are to be used at all. As well as the guidelines, staff from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have customarily checked the age of tyres on coaches as well as fleet and roadside inspections.
The inspection figures have indicated that a low number of vehicles failed to meet legal tyre requirements or had tyres over 10 years of age. As an example, between June and September 2017, 28,500 vehicles were inspected and only 0.23% failed to meet minimum requirements for tyres and 0.03% had tyres older than 10 years fitted to the front axis.
Since the accident in 2012, the DfT have twice tried to commission research into the effects of tyre ageing but both times have been unsuccessful when trying to secure the resources to do so. However, the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, has announced a study which will be the first public research of its kind in the UK and will last 12 months. In a comment, he said, ‘“Existing guidance in this area has proven to be highly effective since 2012. But we want to go further, to examine the issue of tyre ageing in detail.”
When contacting the department of transport, they stated that initially the research will only be conducted on heavy-duty vehicles. Whatever findings and potential repercussions, ATF Professional will keep you informed.