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A change in the law? A Department for Transport consultation on banning tyres aged 10 years and older

  • United Kingdom
  • Other


Automotive safety law is an area of increasing focus as the public and media are challenging the industry, vehicle operators and regulators to up their game. The Department for Transport has now launched a consultation on whether to ban tyres aged 10 years and older on certain vehicles. The fact that this consultation is happening shows the power of public pressure in the modern world: an energetic web-based campaign by victims has driven the Government to action. It also reflects a growing focus trend away from reliance on guidance and towards criminal sanctions: the DVSA already recommends that old tyres should not be mounted in the steering position (where a failure can make vehicles particularly hard to control), but a series of recent incidents involving aged tyres on commercial vehicles have raised questions as to whether guidance alone is sufficient to address safety concerns.

The consultation was launched following a series of government projects and increased awareness on roadworthiness. Catastrophic failures of old tyres have gained an increase in media coverage since 2013. In the latest case in February 2019, the Coroner concluded that a crash of a truck on the M5 after suffering a tyre blow-out, was the result of a tyre failure. The tyre in question was 18 years old and had been fitted to the steered axles, which was also stated to be an additional contributory factor. The Government’s plan to introduce legislative measures for tyre safety were announced in the same month.

The consultation will close on 01 September 2019 and aims to introduce regulations that ban the use of old tyres from heavy goods vehicles, heavy trailers, buses, coaches and minibuses. Both the DVSA and the DfT are seeking views on whether to introduce a similar maximum age for taxis and private hire vehicles. It is expected that non-compliance with the regulations will provide a basis for the Traffic Commissioner to intervene and take regulatory action.

Similar guidance was issued to bus operators regarding fitting older tyres to the front axles of their vehicles in 2013. Recent inspections by the DVSA show that only 0.06 per cent of vehicles were in breach of the guidance. The current consultation aims to achieve similar success in compliance, by applying the guidance to wider classes of commercial vehicles. With a response to the consultation expected this Autumn, it is recommended that tyres are regularly checked and maintained as part of best practice for general tyre safety.

For further information please contact Sarah Valentine or Peter Shervington. Sarah Valentine is a Senior Associate at Eversheds Sutherland specialising in environment, health and safety corporate criminal defence work. Peter Shervington is a Principal Associate at Eversheds Sutherland specialising in product liability and the management of product safety risk. Both have a particular expertise in road safety law.