On 9 December 2020, the government amended The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use Regulations), updating the rules relating to tyres over 10 years of age on certain types of vehicle. The changes came into effect on 1 February 2021, meaning tyres that are 10+ years old are now banned from use on the front axles of HGVs, buses and coaches, as well as all wheels fitted on minibuses.
The rules relating to manufacturer date codes have also been updated, with this change also coming into effect on 1 February this year. It is now a legal requirement for all tyres fitted to HGVs, trailers over 3.5 tonnes, buses, coaches and minibuses to feature legible manufacturer date codes.
The change comes following investigative research commissioned by the Department for Transport revealing that ageing tyres are liable to corrosion which could cause them to fail, as well as years of dedicated campaign work by members of the public.
So, what happens if a vehicle fails to comply with the new rules? Below, we have outlined the sanctions for Operators who are found to be flouting these new regulations.
Using a tyre over 10 years old on prohibited wheel positions
Using tyres aged 10+ years on the front axle of HGVS, buses and coaches, and all positions on minibuses, will result in a dangerous fail at the vehicle’s annual test and a prohibition notice. If found at a DVSA enforcement check, it would result in an ‘S’ marked immediate prohibition notice. In both cases, the vehicle would be banned from the road until the Operator has rectified the issues and it has passed a normal MOT test.
Illegible manufacturer date codes on prohibited wheel positions
Again, failing to have a legible manufacturer date code on the front axle of HGVs, buses and coaches, or any wheel of a minibus, will cause the vehicle to fail an annual test, while it would result in a delayed prohibition at a DVSA enforcement check (i.e. the Operator can still drive the vehicle for a set period, during which they will have to get the issue rectified).
Using tyres more than 10 years of age on other wheel positions
Ensuring that tyres on other wheel positions are roadworthy remains the responsibility of the operator. The use of tyres over 10 years of age on other wheel positions remains legal, but operators must record their age and undertake a specific risk assessment to determine the conditions under which the vehicle will operate.
Illegible manufacturer date codes on other wheel positions
This will result in a minor fail at the vehicle’s annual test, but the vehicle would still pass, with the operator expected to replace the tyre as soon as possible. At a DVSA enforcement check, the operator would receive an inspection notice and would be expected to replace the tyre.
Driver and Operator responsibility
The DVSA would expect a driver to identify obvious tyre deterioration, damage or wear on their walkaround checks. The change of rules may serve as a sensible topic for a toolbox talks for drivers.
In the ‘Moving On Blog’, the DVSA have commented that if they find an Operator with a tyre more than 10 years old or without a date code, which attracts an ‘S’ marked prohibition notice they will follow it up with the Operator. As a matter of course, if it is found that an Operator cannot demonstrate effective systems, including the adequate management of their tyres, a referral to the Traffic Commissioner will be considered.
Specialist Road Transport & Logistics lawyers
If the changes outlined in this article have affected your business, our dedicated Road Transport team is on hand to advise you. We can help you remain fully compliant with updated regulations and, most importantly, that your vehicles remain safe when out on the roads.