News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
5 Nov 2020
11:22 am

South Africans skidding towards death with second-hand tyres

News24 Wire

Criminal action can be taken against drivers or owners of vehicles with unroadworthy tyres.

Image for illustration: iStock

Due to the economic knock the country has taken this year, more than two-thirds of South Africans are resorting to using second-hand tyres to save on motor vehicle costs. The consequences of saving financially now, however, could be detrimental and life-threatening when on the road, particularly during the festive season.

In 2019, it was reported that more than 60% of second-hand tyres sold in South Africa are illegal. It’s fair to assume that this number has increased with the rising unemployment rate and increased financial strain on consumers, according to Arrive Alive.

“That’s a frightening thought when you consider that burst tyres are responsible for 73.5% of accidents caused by the mechanics of a car,” says Darren Hayes-Powell, chairperson of the South African Tyre Manufacturers’ Conference (SATMC).

Every year there are more than 14 000 deaths recorded due to road accidents. Of these road accidents 41% can be attributed to the mechanics of a car, including tyres, according to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

A burst back-wheel tyre could cause the vehicle to “fishtail” as one loses control of the back of the car, whereas a front-tyre burst results in the car instantly steering in the direction of the burst tyre. If driving at a fast speed, this could result in a serious and oftentimes fatal accident.

To assist their customers during this challenging time, some motoring and insurance companies have granted payment holidays on monthly premiums to support the overall maintenance of their vehicles and other essentials.

Second-hand tyres can be deadly

Illegal second-hand tyres are dangerous and may lead to fatal accidents. It is essential to look after your vehicle’s tyres as they are considered the riskiest mechanical element of your car if not properly cared for.

To help prevent wear and tear in your tyres, and ensure that they are safe to drive, make sure that:

  • The tyres have no lumps, bulges, cuts or exposed fabrics.
  • The tyres will not cause any damage to the road, and the metal part of the wheel does not come into contact with the road surface. Each tyre has a tread depth that is 1.6mm or more – this ensures sufficient grip and, therefore, better brake performance.
  • There are no flat spots (the visible flattening of a tyre or bald spots with little to no tyre tread) on the tyres.
  • Tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, making sure not to over or under inflate.
  • You purchased your tyre from a reputable dealership and not on the side of the road.
  • If you need to make use of a plugged or string repair, it is only a temporary solution to be used in an emergency. The tyre should be replaced as soon as possible to avoid blowouts on the road.

“Driving with unfit tyres can lead to road accidents due to negligence,” says Hayes-Powell. “Furthermore, you could incur major financial debt as your insurance company can refute claims should your tyres be considered second-hand or waste tyres. It’s one of the first things the assessor will check.”

It is also important to remember that criminal action can be taken against drivers or owners of vehicles with unroadworthy tyres.

Countries like the UK and the United Arab Emirates urge consumers not to purchase second-hand tyres due to the risk it poses. The UK is planning to introduce a law to prevent the use of old tyres, and the UAE has banned the sale of second-hand tyres since 2012. Closer to home, countries like Zambia and Tanzania are following suit.

“Tyres are the only thing keeping your car safely on the road. We urge all motorists to check their tyres regularly and, if necessary, have them replaced with tyres that are deemed to be roadworthy – it’s a matter of life and death,” warns Hayes-Powell.

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