The government is considering a ban on old tyres for larger vehicles such as HGVs, coaches and minibuses.

Slated for introduction next year, the new rules could see vehicle operators forced to discard tyres once they reach 10 years old, regardless of their condition. Although the proposal is currently in the consultation stage, the government hopes such a ban would improve safety.

Changes made in 2012 saw bus operators advised not to use older tyres on the front axles of their vehicles, and inspections of 130,000 buses by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) revealed that just 0.06 percent of vehicles were in breach of this advice. The DVSA also applied this guidance to heavy goods vehicles, although it was never a legal requirement.

Mechanic inspecting HGV tyre

However, the Department for Transport (DfT) says there is “a growing body of evidence” surrounding the safety implications of old tyres. Just last week, the government published a study that found some ageing tyres “suffer corrosion”, which could cause them to fail. Older tyres have also been connected with fatal large vehicle accidents, including a 2017 HGV crash on the M5, which killed five people.

Michael Ellis, Minister of State for Transport and MP for Northampton North, said the proposals were being considered after a campaign by Frances Molloy, whose son Michael died in a coach crash caused by a 19-year-old tyre. After Michael’s death in 2012, Frances started the ‘Tyred’ campaign to ban old tyres on heavy vehicles.

Old truck tyre with almost no tread

“Our priority is keeping people safe on our roads, and we are taking action to reduce the number of people killed or injured,” said Ellis. “There is increasing evidence that age affects the safety of tyres, which is why I think older tyres should not be used on large vehicles. I would like to thank Frances Molloy and the Tyred campaign for their work raising this important issue. The changes we are consulting on could save lives.”

Old truck tyres piled in a junk yard

For the next 10 weeks, the government is inviting people to put forward their views on the proposal. In particular, the consultation is asking whether the ban should be enforced, and whether it should be extended to include taxis and private hire vehicles.

And in a statement, the DfT said the consultation followed “continued work to establish the impact of age on tyre performance”. The DfT is also promising to publish a “refreshed” Road Safety Statement and two-year action plan “shortly”.