Launched yesterday, the RSA’s Pre-Crash Report on Vehicle Factors in Fatal Collisions report found “vehicle factors” played a role in 101 fatal collisions that occurred from 2008 to 2012, and that of these almost two thirds were defective tyres.
RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock said that the report shows that tyres “are the parts of your car that are most likely to put you at risk of a fatal collision if they’re not roadworthy”.
“Don’t assume you can tell if there’s a problem just by looking at them. You can’t. I would strongly recommend that you check your tyres at least once a month,” she said. “The easiest way to do this is to call into your local garage and get your tyres checked by an expert. Most will probably do this free of charge.”
A total of 983 fatal crashes claimed 1,077 lives on roads between 2008 and 2012, and the report’s authors analysed the gardaí’s forensic collision investigation reports from 867 of these incidents.
Vehicle factors, such as defective tyres, brakes, steering or suspension, were found to have contributed to 101 of these accidents, in combination with other factors such as speeding, alcohol or drug use.
Young drivers aged 17 to 24 accounted for (47%) of fatal collisions involving defective, worn, over or under- inflated tyres, and the report also found defective brakes contributed to 18 deaths and six serious injuries in over the period analysed.
The highest proportion of drivers with defective tyres was in Donegal (18.2%), and Cork, Kerry, and Wexford (9.1% each). More than half (51.5%) of the tyres on the 66 vehicles with defective tyres were excessively or dangerously worn and 10.6% were under-inflated.
A combination of excessively worn tyres, under- inflated, the wrong size or fitted in the wrong direction were found in 6% of cases. Garda Chief Supt Aidan Reid said tyres are the only part of the vehicle that keep motorists in contact with the road.
“Your safety, along with the safety of your passengers and other road users, could depend directly on the condition of your vehicle’s tyres,” he said.
“If your tyres are worn, under or over-inflated, the wrong size, or damaged in any way, they won’t respond properly in an emergency, or poor weather conditions.
“Our advice to road-users is to get your tyres checked regularly and ensure they are properly maintained or they could fail you when you need them most.”
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government is working to include the offence of defective and non-roadworthy tyres in the penalty point system.
An RSA survey conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, published last January, found 53% of the 1,073 drivers surveyed had experienced problems with their tyres in the past five years.
One third of drivers had experienced such problems while driving, a finding that was more pronounced among motorists who drive on major roads, drive for work or are aged 34 or younger.
More than 80% of drivers said they know how to check the air pressure and 73% said they know how to check the tread depth.
The RSA has launched a new TV, radio, cinema and online advertising campaign entitled “Grip” to coincide with the launch of the report.