NTDA alarmed by early Northern Ireland Tyre Tread Depth survey results

The Association for tyre retailers, wholesalers and associated tyre aftermarket suppliers has divulged that at its regional meeting in Northern Ireland on 7th April, three members shared the results of a local tyre tread depth on replacement survey, which showed that in the month of March they had removed more than 3000 tyres from cars and light commercial vans that were below the legal tread depth limited of 1.6mm.

NTDA Director Stefan Hay said “Although these results represent only a small sample of those our members in Northern Ireland are compiling, they are an early indicator of the scale of the problem and support, further, the results of the excellent 2015 survey conducted by TyreSafe, which showed that more than a quarter of motorists were replacing their tyres when they were already illegal. Poor tyre management and maintenance by the consumer combined with a lack of enforcement means that the problem appears to be getting worse which is truly alarming!”

The full results from those 3 retailers showed that out of the 10,215 tyres they inspected on customer’s vehicles in 1 month, 2547 were over 2mm, 3801 were under 2mm and 3735 were under 1.6mm.

NTDA Regional Chairman Dasos Michaelides added: “In the Republic of Ireland the Road Safety Authority (RSA) published a report on the 4th April that revealed that vehicle factors played a role in 1 in 8 (101) fatal collisions in the period 2008 to 2012. Defective tyres were the most significant factor, representing almost two thirds (64.1% or 66) of all vehicle factors identified. It is clear from this, and now our own local survey, that we have a growing problem across the whole of Ireland”.

New regulations took effect from Sunday 17th April 2016 in the Republic of Ireland and although it was already an offence to drive a vehicle with defective or worn tyres, there is now a fixed charge (or fine) of €80, with two penalty points endorsed on the licence on payment of the fixed charge for commission of the offence, or four penalty points following conviction in court.

For many years, and with significant scientific test results to support the argument, the NTDA has called for the minimum legal tread depth to be increased to 3mm. Braking and handling performance significantly deteriorates when tyre tread depth drops below 3mm, especially in wet weather conditions.

Although tyres are legal at 1.6mm, the NTDA believes there remains an argument, sufficiently compelling, for it to advise motorists to change their tyres at 3mm.

With a law change currently not on the UK Government’s agenda, Stefan Hay concluded by saying: “If the legal minimum is to remain at 1.6mm for the foreseeable future, then appropriate resources must be allocated to ensure effective enforcement is carried out. Vehicle manufactures are investing billions to improve driver and passenger safety, but much of that work is immediately undermined if, as is the case now, the tyres are allowed to become illegal and unsafe. We could learn a great deal from the increase in proactive enforcement now being carried out in the Republic of Ireland”.