Front axle ban for tyres of 10 years of age and older

The use of tyres that are aged 10 years and over on the front axles of coaches, buses and minibuses will be subject to a ban under secondary legislation that is to be laid in the autumn, Transport Minister Baroness Vere has announced.

The legislation – which also captures LGVs – will have a three-month implementation period. Additionally, the ban will apply to the rear axles of minibuses where a single wheel is fitted.

Under the changes, tyres’ dates of manufacture will be required to be maintained legibly. Casings that were re-treaded 10 or more years ago will be subject to the same restrictions as first use tyres. They must display the date of the re-treading. Their age will be defined by that marking.

10-year-old tyre ban follows consultation exercise

The announcement represents a climbdown on an earlier consultation. It proposed a total ban on the use of all tyres aged 10 years and older on coaches, buses and minibuses. The consultation also included a proposal to outright prohibit the use of re-treaded casings on steer axles of such vehicles.

1,134 responses to that exercise were received and “extensive investigation” was also undertaken, says the Department for Transport. The latter has included research that indicates how ageing vehicle tyres suffer corrosion that can cause them to fail.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) had earlier welcomed the original proposals, but it added that suppliers must be able to provide operators with complete records of any second-hand tyres. CPT had also highlighted “exceptionally high” levels of existing compliance in the coach and bus sector.

DVSA will continue to be tasked to check tyre ages as part of its roadside enforcement activities. An additional assessment will be added to annual test criteria. Repeated non-compliance will be notified to the Traffic Commissioner (TC) and could be considered in any O-Licence review.

The law will also be enforced by the Police when necessary and drivers may be subject to a fixed penalty notice if their vehicle is non-compliant.

Legislation change thanks to Tyred campaign’s efforts

The change has been brought about largely thanks to Frances Molloy, who founded the Tyred campaign. In 2012, Mrs Molloy’s son Michael was killed in an accident involving the failure of a nearly 20-year old tyre fitted to a coach. Merseypride, the operator of the coach concerned, later had its O-Licence revoked by Traffic Commissioner Beverley Bell.

In 2018 it was announced that DVSA would begin to check the age of tyres fitted to coaches and buses. If any were more than 10 years old a follow-up investigation would be launched with potential referral to the TC.

The requirements will apply to privately-owned coaches and buses that are not subject to the O-Licencing regime. However, ‘heritage’ examples that are currently exempt from roadworthiness testing will not be subject to the ban, provided they are not used commercially.