DVSA issues guidance on use of older tyres
The Driver and Vehicle Services Agency (DVSA) have issued a new guide on the use of tyres which are over 10 years old. This new guide doesn’t ban the use of tyres over 10 years old, however it does say that operators should have an adequate tyre management system in place and consider the risks associated with using older tyres.
The main things to consider are speed, axle weight, journey distance, and the position of the tyre on the vehicle. These all influence how much stress the tyre is exposed to and the effect tyre failure may have on control of the vehicle.
Any tyre failure is a big concern for road safety, and can lead to a crash, broken down vehicles, and shredded tyre remnants could pose a danger to other road users.
No matter what age they are, all tyres should be regularly inspected by a competent person. This should be part of your tyre management and vehicle maintenance system.
Even if an old tyre appears safe, you still need to assess and manage, and risks associated with its use. A short journey at a low speed when the vehicle is lightly loaded poses different risks to those involving long journeys, high-speed journeys, or use while the vehicle is laden.
Department for Transport guidance states that you should not use older tyres on a front axle. An older tyre could still be used on the rear axle as part of a twin wheel fitment though.
Whether it’s safe to use an older tyre on a three axle-trailer as part of a single-wheel fitment depends on how you’re using the trailer and managing the tyres. Having 3 axles and 6 wheels does reduce the risk of trailer instability and loss of controlling a single tyre fails. But using older tyres at a high speed and fully loaded potentially increases the risk of tyre failure.
However, it does depend on how you’re using the tyres. That means that your tyre management risk assessment should consider how you use the trailer and how often you inspect your tyres.
Trailers used at a slower speed or lower weight will reduce the risk. So, you can still use your old tyres on a single wheel fitment as long as you have good tyre management systems in place.
Following a coach crash in 2013, concerns were raised that older tyres are more likely to fail catastrophically than younger tyres.
As a result, the Department for Transport (DfT) is currently researching the effect of age on tyre integrity. The results of this research will be published later on this year.
The DfT decided to introduce this guidance on the use of older tyres as a precaution while the research in still ongoing.
Once the results have been received and reviewed, the DVSA may reconsider or refine its approach to older tyres.
To sum up
• There isn’t a ban on older tyres, and you don’t need to necessarily stop using them. It all depends on how you’re using the tyres and how you manage any risks they might pose.
• You should have a comprehensive tyre management plan in place that includes the identification of a tyre’s age.
• You should not use older tyres on the steering axle of a motor vehicle. If you choose to do this, you must thoroughly asses the risks. Ultimately, you are responsible for the safe operation of your vehicle.