Northern Ireland (NI) has fallen into line with the rest of Great Britain in banning tyres aged 10 years and older on the front axles of HGVs.
The move follows an eight-week consultation by NI’s Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and sees the province align with the changes introduced in Great Britain on 1 February 2021.
The restriction will also apply to buses, coaches and minibuses and to re-treaded tyres, where the date of re-treading will be used to determine the age of the tyre.
The DfI said there will be no requirement for the date marking to be displayed in any orientation and hence no material costs.
Two groups of vehicles are exempt. This includes vehicles that are currently exempt from tyre roadworthiness regulations, including agricultural tractors that travel at low speeds, and historic vehicles that are also currently exempt from roadworthiness testing, providing they are not used commercially.
The regulations will apply to drivers or operators of non-compliant vehicles on Northern Irelands roads, regardless of the country of registration.
The National Tyre Distributor’s Association (NTDA) welcomed the ban this week.
NTDA chief executive Stefan Hay said: “The DfI’s consultation period ran for eight weeks from 24th October 2022 to 18th December 2022 and we very surprised to learn that the NTDA’s response was one of only 12 formal responses received by the Vehicle Policy Unit.
“We are, therefore, elated at the news that the DfI intends to introduce the ban and bring Northern Ireland in line with the existing ban in GB. We would also like to acknowledge, once again, the phenomenal campaign work of Frances Molloy, who following the tragic death of her son Michael in a coach crash in 2012 caused by a 19-year-old tyre, campaigned relentlessly for the ban in GB which was finally introduced in February 2021. Common sense has prevailed and we hope that we will never see another tragedy caused by old tyres on UK roads again.”
Continental Tyres UK also hailed the ban as a welcome development. Steve Howat, general manager of technical services at Continental Tyres UK, said: “Responsible tyre maintenance is a critical factor in maximising road safety. We therefore welcome the Department for Infrastructure’s ruling in Northern Ireland to ban tyres aged 10 years and older on the front axles of HGVs, buses and coaches, aligning it to the rest of the UK.
“Though we are committed to helping operators to maximise the longevity of their tyres, everyone must take responsibility for doing so safely.
“Tyres naturally degrade over time and, as such, older tyres can carry a heightened risk of a high-pressure blowout. The consequences of a tyre failure can be devastating, especially when fitted to the steer axle of the vehicle.
“We encourage all fleet operators to operate a robust tyre service programme, which includes regular inspections and tyre pressure checks.
“One in five truck tyres is operated under or over the required tyre pressure for the wheel, demonstrating the need for ongoing education on the safety critical issue of tyre maintenance.
“Operators, drivers, technicians and retailers can familiarise themselves with the key truck tyre maintenance issues in our new series of awareness videos.
"The learnings are applicable to any truck tyre, no matter the brand, and reinforce our ambition to make our roads as safe as possible.”