Decade-old tyres banned in bid to improve road safety

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Tyres aged 10 years and older will no longer be legal for use on buses and coaches in England, Scotland and Wales, Roads Minister Baroness Vere has announced.

The ban follows an extensive investigation, including research commissioned by the Department for Transport, which indicated ageing tyres suffer corrosion which could cause them to fail.

The move will make it illegal to fit tyres aged 10 years and older to the front wheels of lorries, buses and coaches and all tyres on minibuses when fitted in single configuration. Tyres fitted in twin configuration are not included since a failure of one tyre in a pair presents a lower risk of loss of directional control or stability.

The secondary legislation will be laid in the autumn and will also apply to re-treaded tyres – with the date of re-treading to be marked – making the age of the tyre clearly visible.

While the news has been welcomed by road safety campaigners, it is a blow to some heritage vehicle owners who are unable to source newly-manufactured tyres in the sizes they require.

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “In the same way that you wouldn’t drive a car with faulty brakes, ensuring your tyres are fit for purpose is crucial in making every journey safer.

“Taking this step will give drivers across the country confidence their lorries, buses and coaches are truly fit for use – a safety boost for road users everywhere.

“This change is in no small way the result of years of campaigning, particularly from Frances Molloy, to whom I thank and pay tribute.”

CPT’s Operations Director Keith McNally said: “CPT welcomes the announcement that tyres over 10 years old will be banned from the front axles of buses and coaches in the new measures announced to improve road safety.

“It’s important to remember that compliance within the bus and coach industry is already exceptionally high, and there have only been a small number of cases where this has been a problem.

“It is good to see that a number of our comments have been taken on board in the Government’s final decision and it is now important that the changes are communicated clearly to bus and coach operators, particularly as the implementation period is only three months. It is important to recognise that many businesses are mothballed at the moment because of COVID-19 and they will need sufficient time to ensure their vehicles are compliant.”

Frances Molloy’s son Michael died in a coach crash, where the vehicle had a 19-year-old tyre fitted to the front axle of a coach in 2012. Since the accident, Frances has campaigned to see the law changed.

The Government will be asking DVSA to continue checking tyre age as part of its routine roadside enforcement activities, and adding an additional assessment to the MOT test.

Traffic Commissioners will also be notified of repeated non-compliances by an operator which could be taken into account in any review of their operator licence