Today, 9 December 2020, we’ve updated the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness, to include the change in the Construction and Use Regulations for rules relating to tyres aged over 10 years old and manufacturer date codes.
I wanted to give you an update on the new requirements and answer some of the questions you might have. This should enable you to have time to update your tyre management systems prior to the law changing – ensuring you comply with the new rules on an ongoing basis.
The change in law
From 1 February 2021 Construction and Use Regulations will not allow tyres aged over 10 years old to be used on the front steered axles of HGVs, buses, coaches or all single wheels fitted to a minibus (9 to 16 passenger seats). So, if used it will mean a dangerous fail at annual test and a prohibition.
If inspected at a DVSA enforcement check, tyres aged over 10 years old found on these positions will be considered dangerous and attract an ‘S’ marked immediate prohibition notice.
It will also be a requirement for the manufacturer’s date code to be legible on all tyres fitted to HGVs, trailers over 3.5 tonnes, buses, coaches and minibuses. If a tyre is a retread then the manufacturer date is taken from when the retread was carried out.
If the date code on the tyre is not legible on the affected wheel positions
Tyres without a legible manufacture date code, fitted to the front steered axle of HGVs, buses, coaches or single wheels fitted to a minibus will fail the annual test.
If found at a DVSA enforcement check this would attract a delayed prohibition.
However, if there are also obvious signs of deterioration of the tyre the action will be increased to an ‘S’ marked immediate prohibition notice.
If the date code on the tyre is not legible on other wheel positions
If the manufacturer date code is not legible on other wheel positions, this will also be an offence and a minor fail result will be recorded at annual test. This would not prevent the issue of a pass certificate but there would be an expectation that the tyre is replaced.
If the date code is not legible at an enforcement check an inspection notice would be issued and again, we would expect the tyre to be replaced.
Using tyres more than 10 years old on other wheel positions
It’s the operator’s responsibility to make sure they have an adequate tyre management system in place and that they regularly consider the risks associated with using older tyres, even if the law permits.
Where tyres more than 10 years old are legally used on other wheel positions, their age should be recorded and a specific risk assessment is completed, that considers the distance, speed and loading conditions that the vehicle will operate under (for example, operating only in urban areas).
Using old tyres on historic vehicles
The new regulations exempt non-commercial vehicles aged 40 years and older from these requirements.
However, you should get all tyres of all ages regularly inspected by a competent person. This should be part of your tyre management and vehicle maintenance system.
Even if an older tyre appears safe, you need to assess and manage any risks associated with its use. A short journey at a low speed when the vehicle is lightly loaded, poses different risks to those involving long journeys, high-speed journeys, or use while the vehicle is laden.
In addition to the age or legibility of the code, consideration will be given to the visible deterioration of the tyre to decide whether the driver is culpable.
We would expect the driver to identify obvious visible tyre deterioration, damage or wear on their walkaround checks.
Owner-drivers will normally be considered culpable of tyre age or marking offence regardless of visible deterioration.
Reporting to the Traffic Commissioner
Some of you have asked if we’ll report drivers and operators to the Traffic Commissioner if we catch them using tyres more than 10 years old or without a legible manufacturer date code.
If we find an operator with a tyre more than 10 years old or without a date code, which attracts an ‘S’ marked prohibition notice we’ll follow that up with the operator first.
If the operator can’t show us that they’re adequately managing their tyres, we will consider referring them to the Traffic Commissioner.
We will also be updating the categorisation of defects, annual test and MOT inspection manuals before the new legislation comes into force. These will be published in January 2021.