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Biggest threat to road safety: second-hand tyres

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

"Motorists using second-hand tyres are perhaps one of the biggest dangers to safety on the road."

Motorists using second-hand tyres are perhaps one of the biggest dangers to safety on the road.

This is according to Riaz Haffejee, CEO of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa - one of the leading tyre manufacturers and parent company to Dunlop tyres in South Africa. The company has highlighted this as a serious issue worth highlighting in October, commemorated nationally in South Africa as Transport Month.

Often a more cost effective alternative to purchasing brand new tyres, second-hand or “part-worn” tyres may present a more viable option for cash-strapped motor owners to replace tyres. However, what one may regard as a financial advantage, could cost them on the road.

The contribution of poor tyre conditions to road accident statistics is alarming. In a report released by the Road Traffic Management Corporation for the period January - December 2015, it was revealed that vehicle factors contributed to 7.8% of all road fatalities, of which 78% was due to tyre-related issues such as smooth tyres and burst tyres. “The impact of second hand tyre use is a massive cause for concern and is a malady plaguing SA’s informal sector at present. Consumers may make potentially life-threatening purchase decisions when buying second-hand tyres as tread depth can be dangerously low, resulting in aquaplaning on wet roads. In addition, the buyer does not have an understanding of the tyre’s age or repair history which can be equally dangerous,” said Haffejee.

The illegal – and highly dangerous - practice of “re-grooving” tyres to create greater tread depth is one of the most common traits in second-hand tyres, and presents a considerable hazard to tyre condition. Often more prevalent in the informal sector, re-grooving constitutes the re-creation of tread depth, often done by means of a sharp object, such as a knife or screwdriver, that has been heated to melt away the rubber. Tyre aging is another less-known factor that second-hand tyre consumers do not consider. After a period of time, the strength of a tyre is compromised and becomes brittle due to environmental exposure such sunlight, ozone factors, and oxygen. Such tyres are more likely to result in weak spots which often lead to burst tyres.

Repaired tyres are also another characteristic in the second-hand tyre market, which result in weaker tyres. In many cases, adhesives like super glue is used to repair rips and tears in tyres, and sold to unsuspecting consumers – which is highly dangerous for all road users.

The acknowledgement of part-worn tyres by government highlights that this is being recognised as a serious agenda affecting road safety. Late last year, the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) informed the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Portfolio Committee that there was a national economic imperative and public interest for the formulation of a part-worn standard for second hand tyres. “Everyone remains concerned about road accidents in the country. The safety of our citizens comes first,” said Ms Joanmariae Fubbs, Committee Chairperson, in support of the concerns raised by SATMC.

Haffejee, who is also Chairperson of SATMC, said that the introduction of such standards and controls could improve the regulated sale of second hand tyres, minimise the importation of substandard tyres, and could contribute significantly in improving road safety and consumer protection. While strides have been made in this regard with the assistance of the DTI and other parties, much of the pressure to create awareness on the dangers of second hand and retreaded tyres lies with manufacturers.

Submissions have been made to National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) to formulate a part-worn standard which has been agreed to with the industry, and NRCS is now starting the regulatory process for part-worn tyres.

“At SRSA, we are committed to safety in everything we do. This permeates our organization at all levels, from manufacturing and operational practices, to the engineering of durable, quality products that adhere to the highest global safety standards, right down to rigorous training programmes that are aimed at upskilling fitment experts at our retail Dunlop franchises like Dunlop Zone and Dunlop Express. We hope that safer roads, fewer fatalities and the interests of the public can be preserved through such measures,” concluded Haffejee.


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