Calls for Winter Tyre Restrictions in New Zealand Renewed
Pressure is mounting in New Zealand for the government to legislate against the importation of used cold weather tyres. These tyres, known as snow tyres in New Zealand, are regularly entering the country fitted to used vehicles imported from Japan – the most common source of second hand cars in this country – or loose in containers. While the tread depth on these tyres exceeds the 1.5mm minimum required in New Zealand, they are often fitted to vehicles also fitted with summer tyres and used in conditions they were not intended for. The inappropriate use of these tyres has been linked to several fatal accidents.
The latest such accident occurred last October and an inquest held into this incident, in which a woman who lost control of her vehicle in wet conditions was killed, found the tyres contributed to the accident. The inquest’s findings also came with a recommendation for the national regulatory body, Land Transport New Zealand, to “initiate legislative changes so that warrants of fitness are not issued to vehicles fitted with a combination of snow and standard/conventional tyres.”
The combination of winter and conventional tyres is currently not illegal for vehicles when tested for the warrant of fitness, New Zealand’s MoT equivalent. New Zealand’s Motor Trade Association (MTA) has also voiced its support for the banning of the tyres. “It is too easy for motorists to find their cars have ended up with a mix of different types, as tyres are progressively replaced,” said MTA communications manager Andy Cuming. He added that the MTA clearly expressed its opinion to Land Transport New Zealand in August 2007. “We await with interest Land Transport’s own findings in this matter following the testing they themselves have undertaken.”
Among the recommendations the MTA gave Land Transport New Zealand are those stating used vehicles imported with winter have these tyres replaced before a certificate of compliance was issued to enable the vehicles to operate on New Zealand roads, that a ban be imposed on the importation of second-hand snow tyres, and that vehicles operating with snow tyres fitted outside the cold season and away from colder regions of the country be refused a warrant of fitness.