One year on, level of enforcement of tyre safety regime ‘at a very low level…’

A dangerously degraded tyre with the wire showing.

An analysis of the penalty point notices issued for tyre-related offences shows that there were just 853 detected infringements since the regulations came into force in May last year.

Commenting on the figures, Tom Dennigan of German tyre manufacturer, Continental Tyres Ireland, said: “In common with road safety campaigners across the country, we welcomed the introduction in May last year by the then Minister for Transport of the new tyre safety penalty point regime. However, with only a total of 853 notices issued for tyre offences in that year, we have to say that we are very disappointed with the extremely low level of enforcement in this regard. When you consider that a vehicle’s tyres are the only contact point with the road, their importance to overall road safety can not be overestimated’.

Mr. Dennigan pointed out that in 2016, some 27,755 notices were issued for mobile phone use while driving. “We can all see that mobile phone use behind the wheel is very widespread and we rightly welcome the Garda’s focus on enforcement in this area, but equally, our own analysis of replacement tyres at tyre depots around the country has shown that vehicles running on dangerous or illegal tyres are extremely common. We would therefore have expected the number of tyre-related penalty point notices to be much higher than the recorded figure.”

Last year, Continental Tyres Ireland carried out an analysis, over several weeks, of tyres replaced at a number of branches of nationwide tyre retailer and car maintenance provider, Advance Pitstop.

The initiative was carried out as part of Continental Tyre Group’s commitment to its Vision Zero strategy, a long-term initiative to reduce accidents through tyre technologies and innovative automotive systems.

The examination of tyres that were taken off vehicles that, minutes earlier, were driving on roads all around Ireland, showed that a high number of vehicles on our roads are driving on seriously dangerous or defective tyres.

The badly worn and damaged tyres uncovered in the analysis included the full range of faults that you would expect to find on tyres that have been neglected for some period of time, including:

  • “tread depth worn down to below the legal minimum of 1.6mm and in some cases, worn right down so that the wire carcass of the tyre can be seen;
  • lumps, bulges, and holes in tyres again showing the wire carcass of the tyre;
  • uneven wear with one side of the tyre worn down to dangerous levels due to incorrect balancing and tyre tracking.”

“Even to the untrained eye, the faults on these tyres were immediately apparent but the only way we can tackle this problem is with more stringent enforcement of the new regulations. We fully support the Garda in their work aimed at keeping our roads safe and we understand the serious manpower challenges that the force faces in doing their day-to-day work. However, we are not calling for a whole new programme of roadside checks aimed at tyre safety. We would suggest that a vehicle’s tyres could be easily and quickly checked by a Garda when checking for perhaps, road tax / insurance or indeed, breathalyser tests for alcohol or other drugs. Our sole motivation is to ensure the worst examples of bad tyres that we uncovered are kept off our roads, that would be a huge boost to road safety across the country,” commented Dennigan.

‘We can’t put all of the onus on the Gardai, it is the responsibility of every motorist to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and safe, and the condition of a vehicle’s tyres are hugely important in this regard. Motorists should carry out regular checks of their tyres, looking out for any damage, cuts or bulges. If any of the tyres are showing signs of damage, the motorist should waste no time in having them checked out by a competent tyre fitter.”

Tyre-related penalty point offences that were introduced last year are as follows:

  • Bald / not maintained / damaged tyre
  • Tyre with a cut
  • Tyre with tread depth less than 1.6mm
  • Tyre with lump / bulge / tear / partial failure
  • Unsuitable tyre

The busiest month for the issue of tyre-related penalty point notices was last August, when 108 notices were issued. The lowest level of enforcement of the tyre safety regulations was in May, the first month of the new regulations, when just 46 were issued.

Breakdown of tyre-related penalty point notices issued May 2016 to March 2017

Month No. issued
May 2016 46
June 2016 61
July 2016 59
August 2016 108
Sept 2016 73
Oct 2016 64
Nov 2016 93
Dec 2016 85
Jan 2017 105
Feb 2017 73
Mar 2017 86

Figures for April 2017 not available at time of issue.