'Shocking' RSA study finds frightening number of motorists relying on bald, damaged and bargain tyres

An alarming number of motorists are risking turning their cars into death traps by skimping on their tyres, a “shocking” study by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has found.

The most comprehensive survey yet undertaken by the RSA shows frightening numbers of car owners relying on bald, damaged and bargain tyres as well as secondhand imports from eastern Europe and beyond.

The report will be published in the coming weeks and RSA spokesman Brian Farrell said: “The results will shock a lot of people. We will be publishing figures which show that tyres are a much, much bigger road safety concern than previously thought.”

Dodgy tyres have long been a worry for road safety campaigners. Some 71,500 motorists failed their NCT last year because of poor tyres and tyre condition has been the second or third most common cause of NCT failure every year since 2008.

The recession saw a proliferation of secondhand tyre dealers as cash-strapped motorists tried to save money by buying part-worn tyres on offer from as little as €20.

But experts warn that drivers are putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk by sacrificing quality for price.

New tyres must have a tread that is 8mm deep and a tyre is supposed to scrapped once that tread has worn down below 1.6mm; but to maintain safe stopping distances, particularly in wet conditions, the advice is to replace tyres when the tread reaches 3mm.

Yet some tyre dealers are offering tyres with just under 3mm remaining which, while legal, leaves the motorist with a very small safety margin.

Industry watchdogs in Britain have also pointed out that when costed per millimetre of remaining tread, some ‘bargain’ tyres actually end up costing more than new options.

A growing trend in the secondhand market is the importation of tyres from eastern Europe where motorists must by law switch to specialised winter tyres during the months of ice and snow and a surplus of summer tyres — the type used year-round here — becomes available.

The RSA urges caution when buying from this pool — or buying cheap tyres generally — and has a Guide to Tyre Safety on its website that gives advice on how to spot damage, measure tread and check for EU quality symbols before buying.

Brian Farrell said it was understandable that people were tempted to go for what looked like a bargain option when money was tight but he said: “The one thing you must not do is skimp on tyres.”

More on this topic

One in every 15 cars submitted for NCT in 2019 found to be dangerously defectiveOne in every 15 cars submitted for NCT in 2019 found to be dangerously defective

Alcohol checkpoints should be 'maximised' between 10pm and 6am - RSAAlcohol checkpoints should be 'maximised' between 10pm and 6am - RSA

Shane Ross: Retailers obliged to inform that segweys and e-scooters are illegal on public roadsShane Ross: Retailers obliged to inform that segweys and e-scooters are illegal on public roads

Courts Service say fine pay option explains drop in speed convictionsCourts Service say fine pay option explains drop in speed convictions


Lifestyle

Jim Murray is a guitarist, originally from An Muine Fliuch, Co Cork.A Question of Taste: Jim Murray, Guitarist

A consultant said it’s not ‘trigger finger’ and is looking into other possible conditions.Natural health: 'My middle finger is stuck at a slight angle'

If you're a gardener who follows astrology, you may be interested to know your garden could perform better if you plan your gardening schedule according to the path of the moon.Tuning into the cycles of nature is all part of lunar gardening

More From The Irish Examiner