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ALBUM Response to the Consultation on Banning Tyres Aged 10 Years or Older

September 2, 2019

Here is ALBUM’s response to the consultation on banning tyres aged 10 years or older.

The vehicles included in the proposals include buses, coaches and minibuses. The Department are also seeking evidence on whether to introduce a similar maximum age for tyres fitted to taxis and private hire vehicles.

Question 1 Do you agree that we should ban the use of first life tyres aged 10 years and older on all axles of HGVs, heavy trailers, buses, coaches and minibuses? If not, please provide your reasoning.

ALBUM supports measures designed to improve road safety where there is evidence of a significant problem and where the benefits of changing the present situation can be shown to outweigh the costs. We are concerned that the proposal has come from pressure following two unfortunate accidents.

Statistics highlight that the guidance issued to the industry has been adhered to by the majority of operators, with over 99% of vehicles presented for annual test having tyres under 10 years of age on their front axle. Non-compliant vehicles receive an advisory notice at MOT test. The zero-tolerance policy regarding advisory notices has ensured a very high level of compliance by vehicle operators. Given this, we support the principle of a ban on older tyres.

The issue that seems not to have been taken into account is the supply of second-hand tyres. We believe that in both the tragic incidents that resulted in lives being lost, the operators had purchased second hand tyres. The operators did not know the history of these tyres or their condition. If this regulation is implemented, it is the supplier that must have some responsibility as to the condition of the tyre. Tyres under ten years old that have not been looked after may pose a greater risk to road safety compared to a tyre that is older than ten years but has been taken care of.

Question 2 Do you agree with our proposal, subject to the outcome of the consultation, to prohibit the use of re-treaded tyres, of any age on the steered axles of HGVs, buses, coaches and minibuses? Please include any evidence you have relating to the safety of re-treaded tyres on the steered axles. If you do not agree, please provide your reasoning.

We agree that it should be an offence to fit re-treaded tyres of any age to any front steered axle of a bus, coaches or minibuses. We believe that the proposal should only cover the front steered axle as a tyre failure in this position has the potential for the vehicle to lose steering control.

Question 3 Do you agree with our approach for re-treaded tyres, (that their age should be defined from the date of the re-treading and those that were re-treaded 10 or more years ago should be subject to the same restrictions as first life tyres that are 10 years and older)? If not, please provide details of any proposed alternative treatment for re-treaded tyres in any legislation.

We agree that it should be an offence for re-treaded tyres to be fitted to a front steered axle if it exceeds 10 years from its date of re-treading as specified on the tyre wall. We recognise that re-treaded tyres are a key element of the heavy-duty vehicle market and provide a cost-effective product to operators, a sustainable solution to recycling worn tyres and employment at UK manufacturing sites and therefore those that are less than 10 years old should continue to be used. They must also be tested according to the same load and speed criteria as those used for new tyres. The use of re-treaded tyres on axles other than the front axle that steers the vehicle provides the economic and operational flexibility to vehicle operators and the environmental benefits of re-treaded tyres, as there is currently no evidence that re-treaded tyres provide any less safety than first life tyres.

Question 4 Do you think we have explained our proposals clearly, including how they might affect you? If not, what other information would you find useful?

The way the proposals have been explained is generally clear.

The proposal to amend the Regulations to mandate the visibility of markings on tyres, including in a twin-wheel arrangement, where tyre date markings will need to be displayed on the outer facing sidewalls of the arrangement and also to propose to make it an offence to drive or operate a vehicle when these date markings are not present or illegible is not practicable because of the common practice of turning tyres to balance wear.

Question 5 Do you agree with the proposed exemptions for: Tyre roadworthiness? b) Vehicles of historical interest? Please explain your response.

We believe that the Department must ensure consistent standards across all areas of operational road safety. We agree that it is appropriate to provide an exemption to those vehicles in scope which meet the criteria for vehicles of historic interest and are over 40 years old, provided that they are not used for commercial purposes. We believe that these proposals will affect many historic vehicle operations which usually operate very low mileage on non-commercial activities

Question 6 Do you anticipate any operational issues for you to be able to comply with the proposed implementation period of 3 months? If yes, please explain what operational issues you anticipate.

The proposed lead in time is too short. We feel it should be at least twelve months.

Question 7 Do you agree with our proposed approach to enforcement? If not, do you have any suggestions for how we could improve our approach to enforcement?

We agree with the proposed approach for enforcement, as long as this is communicated to the commercial vehicle operating sector and the tyre management community. We agree that any changes should be enforced via the Operator licensing regime, roadside checks and roadworthiness checks.

We do not believe it is practical to prosecute the driver for the age of the tyre not being visible, the only way this would be acceptable is if the tyre date is shown on both sides of the tyre.

Question 8 What views do you have on the analysis of the costs and benefits outlined in the consultation stage impact assessment?

We believe that it is feasible to implement the new legislation, based on a non-compliance of around 0.05%.

However, it is crucial to note that the legislative approach being proposed is significantly different to the current guidance. Many operators may already comply with the current guidance but use older tyres on the rear axle as part of a twin wheel arrangement. We do not believe that such circumstances have been monitored and the IA states the assumption that all tyres on a vehicle are around the same age, which we do not believe is necessarily always the case. To base the cost impacts on those vehicles that breach the guidance would result in a serious underestimate of the costs to operators. The costs derive from replacing older tyres and bringing forward tyre purchases. Only a subset of re-treaded tyres would be required to be replaced, as these can be used (if less than ten years old) on axles that do not control the steering of the vehicle.

The other cost could be that businesses or individuals selling tyres that are ten years or older would sell fewer units, as the demand for these tyres would fall. Due to this, lost revenue may be made up through passing the cost to consumers, which could be reflected in the price of new tyres. We believe that the benefit of the legislation would outweigh the costs and we should reiterate that consideration must be given to how the second hand tyre market might be better controlled.

Question 9 What are your views on the potential environmental impact of our proposals?

There will be an increase of tyres that will require to be disposed of, but the statistics highlighted 44 vehicles with tyres on the front axle over 10 years of age. The number of extra tyres the bus industry would have to dispose of is 88. This is acceptable especially as the proposed changes should benefit road safety.

Question 10 Do you think this ban on the use of tyres 10 years or older should be extended to taxis and Private Hire Vehicles?

To ensure a level operating environment any vehicle that is used to transport passengers for a fee should be governed by legislation on tyre age.

Question 11 Do you consider that tyre age should be part of the licensing test requirement for taxis and PHVs? If not, please suggest alternative methods for implementing any ban.

If this ban were to be introduced for taxis and private hire vehicles, this could be part of the licensing test requirement, either via MOT or Local Authority Testing.

Question 12 What else do you think we should be aware of in relation to an age-related ban for tyres for taxis and PHVs?

We have no comment to make.

Question 13 Do you have any other observations or comments about aged tyres?

At present there is a very high level of compliance in the bus and coach sector. Research highlights one vehicle in the Bus and Coach Sector was involved in an accident as a result of a defective tyre. In comparison, vehicles involved in an accident as a result of a defective tyre included 384 cars and 39 motorcycles. The legislation should target these vehicles as the potential for more serious injuries occur.

This legislation should cover all vehicles no matter the size. It should include cars and motorcycles or any vehicles where tyre age could be the cause of any life threatening incident.  To ensure a level playing field, the requirements must also be applied to all vehicles that visit the UK. Our members have always taken safety seriously and this can be proved by the statistics regarding 10 year old tyres.

Unfortunately, there was still a very small section of the industry that did not comply with the guidance; it is questionable whether such operators would comply even if it was illegal and the penalties for failing to do so were substantial