While waiting in line to pay for gas yesterday, I glanced at the newspaper rack and spotted an ominous-sounding headline on the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal: “New tire rules could close Akron shops.”
Back in March 2016, I wrote about the ongoing battle with dangerous and part-worn tires in Europe. I highlighted a particular case in which a 19-year-old tire was fitted to a coach that had a blowout and crashed in the UK in 2012, killing three teenagers. The mother of one of the fatally injured youngsters, Frances Molly, was in the middle of a long and determined campaign to ban all tires over the age of 10 years old.
Now that my father has been out the tire business for almost a decade, he’s learning all kinds of interesting details regarding our after hours activities at the shop when we were kids. One of my personal favorites was the practice of strategically positioning scrap tires in the scrap tire trailer so they could be easily retrieved and installed on a friend’s car.
It would be true to say that Europe has something of a tire crisis at the moment. No, it has nothing to do with inexpensive Chinese imports or, in fact, new tire prices. The main problem right now is trying to ensure the tires on drivers’ vehicles are actually fit for purpose.
The sale of defective or part-worn tires remains a thorn in the side of the tire industry around the world. We know that unsafe, unlawful tires cause death and mayhem on our roads, but the sale of part-worns is a global problem that appears to be reluctantly tolerated... that is, until now.
Although it would be fair to say that the problem of part-worn tire sales has remained at a manageable level for the European industry during the past couple of years, it is still viewed as a serious thorn in the side of the safety image of modern tires — and nowhere more so than in the UK.
In early October, as usual I attended the UK Tyre Industry Conference 2015 which is presented by the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) as it is always a very informative source of what’s happening in this busy and competitive market.