One in five motorists risks life by driving on bald tyres
ONE in five motorists is risking their life not replacing dangerously bald tyres because of the cost.
Others are replacing their old tyres with second-hand imports -- taken off crashed cars abroad, discarded as unsafe by foreign motorists or badly remoulded.
It was revealed yesterday that one in five cars failed the National Car Test (NCT) during the first half of this year due to defective tyres.
More than 106,000 of the 560,000 cars tested by the service between January and June had tyres that were found to be bald and in a dangerous state. This accounts for a fifth of the 2.8 million cars on Irish roads.
Also, drivers could potentially have defective tyres for up to two years until they take the NCT.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has estimated that as many as 500,000 cars may be travelling on sub-standard tyres that are unable to grip wet roads and have dangerous braking distances.
The reasons for tyres failing the NCT range from the incorrect tread depth, which should be a minimum of 1.6mm, to the condition of the tyres -- for example, a cut or break in the fabric.
Disclosing that many people were delaying the replacement of their tyres because of economic circumstances, RSA chief executive Noel Brett described the NCT findings as " very scary".
"When you consider the size of the national car fleet you could be looking at as many as 500,000 motorists driving on defective tyres," he said.
"This is a major public safety issue and could lead to people being killed. I would urge all motorists to go to a reputable tyre dealer and have their tyres checked and replaced if necessary."
Mr Brett said that delaying the replacement of tyres could have catastrophic consequences.
Tests recently conducted by the RSA show that if driving at 100kmh in wet conditions, it takes a car with good tyres 43 metres to come to a stop. But in a car with worn tyres, it takes an extra 17 metres -- the length of six parked cars.
Mr Brett warned that there was a lack of awareness among motorists on the dangers of worn tyres. Another major issue was the growing use of imported second-hand tyres. Unlike the UK, there is no quality control standards here for second-hand tyres.
The RSA chief said: "You don't know where they have come from. Many of them would have come from crashed cars. They are someone else's used tyres. They got rid of them. These tyres might be cheap, but that does not mean they are safe."
The Irish Tyre Industry Association (ITIA) said a lack of knowledge and the economic climate meant people were paying less attention to the condition of their tyres.
ITIA members are carrying out free tyre checks and giving away tyre safety kits during Road Safety Week next week.