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MiniPlus Article
November 28 2018
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

DVSA announces major clampdown on old tyres

The use of tyres above 10 years old is to come in for scrutiny; referral to the TC a possible consequence

Discovery of a tyre over 10 years old will lead to a follow-up investigation

DVSA has declared that it will take a firm line on tyre age, with the enforcement agency’s overhauled policy being that if it discovers a tyre that is more than 10 years old fitted to a coach or a bus, there will likely be a follow-up investigation of the operator.

Based on that, if the operator is unable to provide “an adequate explanation” for the use of such a tyre, or if its tyre management systems are not up to standard, DVSA may refer the matter to the Traffic Commissioner (TC) for possible regulatory action.

Tyres taken seriously

In 2013, the DfT issued voluntary guidance that “strongly discouraged” the use of tyres that are more than 10 years old on coaches, and which also suggested strict conditions if they were to be used at all.

That followed an accident in 2012 that involved a coach from Liverpool operator Merseypride. The failure of a tyre caused it to leave the road, leading to the death of the driver and two passengers.

It was later revealed that the tyre in question, despite having 40% of tread depth present, was almost 20 years old. Merseypride’s O-Licence was subsequently revoked by then-Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell at a Public Inquiry.

A representative of the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) has pointed out that as rubber ages, it perishes. There is still no suggestion that the sale of part-worn tyres will be outlawed. The NTDA blames that practice for the presence of such old casings in the market.

Frances Molloy, whose son Michael was killed in the Merseypride accident, has campaigned ever since to make illegal the use of tyres that are more than 10 years old on PCVs. Her Tyred campaign was relaunched last year. It attracted the support of some of Merseyside’s political heavyweights. One of them is Maria Eagle, MP for Garston and Halewood.

While Mrs Molloy hasn’t got exactly what she wanted - yet - the revelation that the discovery of a tyre that is more than 10 years old can now lead to an appearance before the TC is likely to deliver much the same result by proxy.

Documents updated

DVSA has updated its Categorisation of Defects manual to reflect the change. The manual is used primarily as a guide during roadside enforcement, but it is also used during annual MoT testing.

Tyred campaign aims to outlaw the use of tyres that are over 10 years old

If DVSA staff discover a tyre that fails the 10-year stipulation, it will be recorded on a vehicle inspection notice, although DVSA’s Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness adds the caveat that such a tyre may be permitted on a twin-wheeled axle subject to a risk assessment having taken place.

The Categorisation of Defects makes the same direction for smaller vehicles, implying that the discovery of a tyre that is more than 10 years old on a minicoach or minibus will potentially also lead to regulatory action.

News of the change in policy on tyre age was revealed by Minister of State for Transport Jesse Norman in a written statement issued on 23 November.

“In 2013 the DfT issued guidance about the use of older tyres on coaches and buses,” says Mr Norman.

“This precautionary guidance encouraged operators to remove any tyre aged 10 years or more from the front axle of a vehicle. Since then, DVSA has been monitoring the age of tyres fitted during annual roadworthiness inspections. Compliance has been good.”

Action is ‘not good enough’

Mrs Eagle has greeted Mr Norman’s statement with scepticism. It was issued on the same day that the government objected - for the seventh time - to a second reading of the Tyred bill, which would outlaw the use of tyres that are over 10 years old on PCVs She says that so far in 2018, 112 tyres that did not satisfy the previous voluntary guidance have been discovered fitted to coaches and buses.

“While I welcome this slight move forward, it is not enough,” she adds. “Given the catastrophic consequences if one of these tyres suddenly failed, it would be better and clearer for all concerned for the government simply to outlaw them.” Mrs Eagle plans a further attempt at securing a second reading of the Tyred bill on 25 January.

The DfT is currently undertaking research to help it better understand the effect of age on a tyre’s integrity. Additional funding has been made available to extend the number of samples that are analysed. The outcome will be published in 2019.

Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness at

routeone comment

It is difficult to understand why the government is doing its utmost to derail the Tyred bill, which calls for an outright ban on the use of tyres that are more than 10 years old on PCVs.

Few reputable operators would have anything to do with a casing older than that. On the vast majority of occasions, they are worn out long before they reach that point.

News that the discovery of a tyre that is more than 10 years old affixed to a PCV may lead to an appointment with the TC is likely to make the practice even less common, but it is worrying that, if Mrs Eagle’s figure is correct, 112 have been detected on PCVs so far in 2018.

Its ozone that attacks rubber and ozone is more prevelant in coastal areas. Ozone causes crazing of the rubber, particularly the side walls. However, if the tyres are not crazed I cannot see the problem with tyre that are over 10 years old.......what do the tyre manufacturers say?
Is it a safety issue if the tyres ar not crazed? Do tyre manufacturers have a commercial interest in agreeing thay 10 year old tyres should be banned? Appears to me that not enough questions have been asked before this action has been taken.
Dave Rimmer

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