Government consulting on 10-year-old tyre ban
Following strenuous campaigning from the industry, Tyred and Frances Molloy in particular, the government announced on 26 February that it will consult on “options to ban older tyres from use on buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles and mini-buses to help keep road users safe”. The Department for Transport explained that the proposed legislation will make it illegal for these vehicles to run with a tyre aged 10 years or over.
The announcement follows the ‘Tyred’ campaign, led by Frances Molloy, whose 18-year-old son Michael was among 3 people killed in a coach crash on the A3 in 2012. The collision was caused by the failure of a 19-year-old tyre on the front axle of the coach.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast the morning after the announcement (27 February 2019), Frances Molloy said the government’s change of tack on the subject of old tyre legislation came “out of the blue”. However, while it has been a hard road up to this point, Molloy expressed pleasure that the government is now looking to cooperate on the matter. Referring to a phonecall between herself and Jesse Norman MP (minister of state for the Department of Transport), Molloy quoted Norman as saying: “Can we now work together?” In response Molloy – on behalf of Tyred – said: “We want to campaign with the government to make sure this law comes in.”
With this in mind, Molloy is optimistic that, while initial discussions have revolved around banning 10-year-old and older bus and coach tyres, the scope of the proposed legislation is being expanded to HGVs as a whole and could be expanded further to minibuses and taxis.
Writing in the official government statement on the matter, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling commented: “Keeping people safe on our roads is our priority, and we have been working hard to understand the link between tyre age and road safety. 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.”
Roads Minister Jesse Norman added: “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.”
The move follows a series of measures on tyre safety put in place by the government. In 2013, the DfT issued guidance advising bus operators against fitting older tyres to the front axles of their vehicles. This has been reinforced through inspections by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Since June 2017, they have inspected 136,263 buses and coaches and have found 0.06 per cent to breach the guidance.
Then in November last year (2018), the DVSA guidance on maintaining roadworthiness was updated to say that tyres of 10 years of age or older should not be used on the front axles of heavy goods vehicles as well as buses and coaches.
In addition, in 2018 the government commissioned research to establish the effect age has on the integrity of road vehicle tyres. As part of this research, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory has worked with a leading laboratory in the United States to carry out testing and analysis. The outcome of this research will be published later in the spring.
But while the government has moved towards a 10 year-old tyre ban in a number of ways, when you consider the efforts made by Frances Molloy and the Tyred campaign the latest announcement will be seen as battle won in the war on old tyres. However, any victory now or in future will always have to be seen in the context of the tragedy that brought the issue to the political forefront.