Laws Remains Unchanged While DfT Releases PSV-Specific Tyre Age Guidelines
The Department for Transport in association with Vehicle and Operator Service Agency has recently published a document offering guidance on ideal age of tyres. This publication is in response to the findings of coroner Richard Travers, subsequent to the A3 fatal coach crash in September 2012. The breakdown of a 19-year old tyre had led to the fatal accident. DfT has published the document under it’s ‘’Making Roads Safer’ initiative.
What Does the DfT Guidance Entail?
The DfT guidance has been prepared considering the coroner-in-charge’s conclusion that age led deterioration was the sole reason behind the collapse of the front left tyre of the coach in question. Richard Travers’ findings also revealed that the tyre showed no obvious defects before the accident occurred.
The publication strongly recommends PSV operators to fit tyres that are ten years old or above only to the rear axles of their buses or coaches and only as a part of a combination of two tyres. Such tyres should never be fitted at the front, says the guidance.
The Need for Change in Law
These recommendations are non-enforceable and hence fall quite short of the change in laws campaigned for by some since the fatality occurred. The mother of 18 year old Michael Molloy, who died in the crash, is one such tyre aging legislation campaigner. She wrote on the deceased’s Facebook wall that the guidance has been coincidentally released the day she met Mary Creagh, the Shadow State Secretary for Transport.
Molloy expressed that if the government actually felt strongly about their recommendation for tyres more than ten years old, they must acknowledge the gravity of the need to change the pertinent laws. She added that her meeting with Creagh went very well. Ms Molloy has garnered support political from Garston and Halewood MP, Maria Eagle as well.
The news is that the Transport Secretary of State, Patrick McLoughlin, does not deem it necessary to enforce a legislation restricting the age of tyres at this stage. This opinion comes despite the publication of guidelines from DfT and VOSA and calls for stricter control from Frances Molloy and her backers.
McLoughlin had penned a letter to Maria Eagle on 29 November this year confirming his amateur understanding of tyres. The letter said that he believes that the relation between a tyre’s age and its structural integrity is not entirely understood. He confirmed noting down the info provided by tyre specialist, David Price, and countered the same with some suggestions from the tyre industry. He, in the letter, mentioned that factors such as correct air pressure, regular inspection for damage and regular usage are more critical compared to a tyre’s age limit.
The Transport Secretary also mentioned that the difficulties in viewing the date codes engraved on the set of rear tyres, the fitment position suggested in the guidance dated 19 December, served as a hindrance in introducing the tyre age legislation.