Positive focus on tyre safety over recent years is paying off but Irish motorists really need to do better

Many surveys show that the majority of motorists in Ireland neglect their tyres, with some surveys showing that as many as one in eight motorists never check their tyres.  

However, over the past 10 years, our legislators have to be commended for attempting to redress the balance in terms of improving tyre care and tyre safety on our roads.  First with the introduction of tyre-related penalty points In 2016, aimed at eliminating dangerous or defective tyres from our roads. And then, in more recent years, the National Car Test (NCT) has introduced a dangerous fault classification targeting any vehicle that is presented with dangerously worn or defective tyres.

In spite of this increased focus on tyre safety, a significant number of Irish motorists are still very negligent with regard to looking after their tyres.  According to Tom Dennigan of Continental Tyres Ireland, surveys on the ground at tyre depots across the country have shown that in some cases, cars on extremely worn and dangerously defective tyres made up more than 50 percent of customers pulling in to have their tyres checked or replaced. “Seeing with my own eyes the state of tyres on cars that five minutes earlier were on roads and motorways across the country, I have no doubt that damaged or dangerously worn tyres are a key factor in many road traffic collisions on Irish roads”, commented Dennigan.  

“The truth is that the penalty point offences for dangerous or defective tyres are not being enforced – has any motorist in Ireland ever seen a roadside Garda checkpoint assessing the state of tyres on vehicles.  A cursory look at the penalty point offences statistics will show that while many of the offences on the roster have been attributed to thousands or hundreds of thousands of licence holders (in particular, for speeding or mobile phone use), while those for tyre related penalty points are barely in the hundreds”.

Dennigan is also calling on motorists in Ireland to get more proactive when it comes to looking after their tyres, their vehicle’s only contact with the road: “Think about it, good premium tyres are the product of years of research and development and are designed to stop your car safely.  However, like any piece of high tech equipment, they are subject to wear and tear and need to be replaced when they become damaged or overly worn.  A very high number of motorists in Ireland do not give their tyres a second thought.  As an industry, working with road safety organisations, we need to work harder at getting the message across to motorists the absolute need to regularly check your tyres.  A tyre check can be carried out in a matter of minutes: make sure the tyre is inflated to the correct level, then examine the tyre for any cuts or abrasions and finally check the tread depth (the depth of the grooves), if the tyre is any way badly worn or in poor condition, get along to your local tyre dealer to have them properly checked”.

“And when it comes time to replace your tyres, don’t always go for the cheapest option – tyres from the more premium, reputable brands are more expensive because significant levels of research and development have gone into their production to ensure they do the job you want them to do: stop when you need to and provide grip on wet or slippery roads – independent tests consistently show that budget tyres perform badly in those two important areas of tyre safety.  Premium tyres will also last longer so, very often, buying cheap tyres is a false economy as you will have to replace them quicker”, concluded Dennigan.

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