LONDON—The United Kingdom's Department for Transport is considering legislation that would make it illegal to operate buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles and mini-buses with tires that are 10 years old or older.
The Department's announcement this week by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling follows a research project, launched by the government last year, to look at whether the age of a tire has a direct impact on its safety.
"Keeping people safe on our roads is our priority, and we have been working hard to understand the link between tire age and road safety," Grayling said. "Emerging evidence and leading expert testimony shows us that we need to ban tires over the age of 10 years from larger vehicles based upon the 'precautionary principle'—a move that will make our roads safer for everyone."
The Transport Department's move follows the "Tyred" campaign, led by Frances Molloy, whose 18-year-old son Michael was among three people killed in 2010 in a motorcoach crash on the A3, a divided highway running from London to Portsmouth, England.
The collision, according to Tyred, was caused by the failure of a 19-year-old tire on the front axle of the coach.
U.K. Roads Minister Jesse Norman said, "I believe the changes we are consulting on will save lives, and I hope it will be welcomed by everyone who shares a commitment to making our roads safer, for the benefit of all."
The move follows a series of measures on tire safety put in place by the government, the Transport Department said. In 2013, the department issued guidance advising bus operators against fitting older tires to the front axles of their vehicles.
This has been reinforced through inspections by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), which has inspected 136,263 buses and coaches since June 2017 and found just 0.06 percent to have breached the guidance.
In November 2018, the DVSA guidance on maintaining roadworthiness was updated to say that tires of 10 years of age or older should not be used on the front axles of heavy goods vehicles as well as buses and coaches.
In addition, the government commissioned "world-leading research" in 2018 to establish the effect age has on the integrity of road vehicle tires.
As part of this research, the U.K.'s Transport Research Laboratory has worked with a leading laboratory in the U.S. to carry out testing and analysis. The outcome of this research will be published later in the spring, the department said.