Change to 4-year MOT will lead to more road casualties, says Bridgestone MD

Robin Shaw notes that while the Government wants MOTs after four years, the average lifespan of a car tyre is only three

In his position as Bridgestone’s north region managing director, as well as chair of the SMMT Aftermarket Section, Robin Shaw has expressed concern at Chancellor George Osborne’s plans in last month’s Budget to extend the deadline for new cars and motorcycles to be MOT tested after four years instead of three.

The Government claims the move would save motorists more than £100 million per year, however Shaw strongly advises a reassessment of the proposed change as he believes the added 12 months will result in more cars running on tyres with tread depths below the 1.6mm legal limit. As a large minority of UK drivers only replace their vehicles’ tyres after the legal limit is exceeded – TyreSafe recently reported that 27.1 per cent of the almost 102,000 tyres it and Highways England inspected had tread depths of less than 1.6mm – Shaw’s concerns about postponing the initial MOT are understandable.

“We oppose these proposals, as we believe they will lead to an increase in the number of unsafe and illegal vehicles on our roads,” he said. “The government is claiming that by considering this change, motorists will save money because modern day cars don’t need their vehicles tested as often. The worry is that within the 12 month extension, motorists will be driving around with defects that are actually more costly to repair – and significantly more dangerous as a result.”

Figures from the Department for Transport, as presented by TyreSafe in July, actually state that tyres were the number one contributing factor to killed or seriously injured (KSIs) cases in the UK between 2009 and 2013 (36 per cent) in terms of vehicle defects, more so than braking and steering faults (31 per cent and 16 per cent respectively).

According to the DFT, 981 people were either killed or seriously injured from dangerous tyres during this five-year period, and Bridgestone believes a law to lengthen the first MOT test to four years will only add to the sombre figures, particularly as it says the average life of a car tyre is around three years.

Shaw points to the costs of tyre related rod casualties between 2009 and 2013 – according to DfT figures, these stood at £435,593,773. The Bridgestone MD argues that this amount will only rise if more tyres reach the end of their life without being checked.

“The tyre industry spends a great deal of time attempting to educate motorists about checking their tyres more regularly, but we know that one in five drivers have never checked their tyre tread depth,” he commented. “When coupling this with the fact that a tyre often needs replacing within four years due to wear and illegal tread depth, you can see that this Budget proposal could have disastrous consequences, with our roads becoming more dangerous than ever.

“We firmly believe that the change in law would negatively impact upon the number of road deaths and casualties on our roads each year,” Shaw concluded.


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