RSA expert / Independent.ie:
This time last year, I talked about the impact a new EU directive would have on roadworthiness testing (basically the NCT and CVRT).
I also highlighted how the directive would target the two vehicle fault items most closely linked to road safety – tyres and brakes.
Unfortunately, since the changes kicked in last August, there has been a significant increase in the number of vehicles classified as ‘Fail Dangerous’ during their testing for roadworthiness.
Each month now, 8,500 vehicles are being classified as dangerously defective for their tyre tread and tyre condition across the NCT and CVRT testing systems.
We conducted a review of Garda fatal forensic investigation collision files for 2008-2012.
Its main finding on the roadworthiness of vehicles involved in fatal collisions was that there is no component in your vehicle as likely to contribute to a crash as your tyres.
The analysis showed tyres are a contributory factor in one in 10 fatal crashes.
Put in more stark terms, defective tyres are a contributory factor in approximately 14 deaths every year.
After tyres, your brakes are one of the most likely factors to contribute to a road traffic accident.
That so many vehicles are failing a roadworthiness test because of poor-quality tyres is a concern.
It means people are driving around on dangerous tyres before they come near the NCT or CVRT.
The NCT and CVRT tests are basic health checks of vehicles at a particular point in time.
It is vital that you understand the importance of maintaining the roadworthiness of your vehicle, especially tyres and brakes, at all times and not just when they are due to be tested.
If you are found driving a vehicle with defective or worn tyres you could face up to four penalty points and a fixed penalty of up to €120.
Tyres are your only contact with the road. That’s why you need to make sure that they are fit for purpose. You should check regularly and make sure they are not below the legal minimum tread of 1.6mm.
A new tyre has 8mm of tread depth, and I start thinking about replacing mine when they drop below 3mm.
Look out for damage too, such as rips, tears, bulges.
If you can’t do this yourself, most tyre centres or garages will inspect your tyres free of charge.
Information can be found on how to check your vehicle at www.rsa.ie and www.ncts.ie