In 2012, a coach transporting young people back from a music festival crashed, causing three people to tragically lose their lives, and many more to suffer life changing injuries. The crash was caused by a tyre that was 19.5 years old.
Following an inquest into the tragic crash the coroner wrote to the Government appealing for legislation to ban tyres older than 10 years from being used by coaches or mini-busses.
The Department of Transport did not implement this change in legislation but simply amended the safety guidelines of public service vehicles (busses, mini-busses, coaches etc), recommending that tyres over 10 years should not be fitted.
This is not enough. Unless legislation is passed it is impossible to enforce tyre age limit rules and people will continue to be killed and injured due to old tyres.
One of the biggest factors that adversely affects tyres is the process of ageing. Over time and with 'oxidation' certain rubbers 'work-harden' which leads to rubber stiffening and decreases its integrity. There may be some cracks visible on the tyres surface but the real issue lies on the inside of the tyre. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), ageing tyres primarily degrade from the inside out - this can lead to the inner layers of the tyre delaminating from the steel belts inside, leading to, in some cases, exploding tyres.
Because aging substantially decreases the quality, integrity and ultimately the safety of tyres, you would expect there to be laws in place to protect the public.
Almost all leading tyre experts and vehicle manufacturers make safety recommendations in their handbooks, stating tyres over 10 years old should not be used. Some go as far as saying 6 years is the safe limit. Yet, legally, this issue has been ignored by Government.
Over 2.5 billion vehicle miles were clocked up last year alone by coaches in the UK – multiply this number by the available seats in each vehicle and you understand the scale of responsibility that coach companies have for public safety.
Tyres are the single largest contributing factor when causalities arise from vehicle failings on UK roads. In 2015 there were over 38,000 tyre-related callouts on our motorways and A-roads.
Public Service Vehicles, like coaches, have a yearly road safety check. Industry leaders agree that checking tyre age could be easily implemented as part of this to prevent more tragedies from happening.