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Only with tires in order

Recent investigations, promoted by Assogomma and Federpneus with the Traffic Police, carried out over 10,500 checks throughout the country; results have been published.

Carlo Ferro

Italian motorists are still not paying the necessary attention to tire care, largely viewed as not a priority. However, smooth, under-inflated, uneven or non-compliant tires can increase the risk of accidents, especially in bad weather or excessive heat. The Safe Holidays campaign, an initiative promoted by Assogomma and Federpneus along with the Traffic Police, saw more than 10,500 checks performed throughout the country during the six months prior to the summer exodus, and has been instrumental in raising the public’s awareness on safety issues. Last July in Rome the results of the survey were presented - the data were processed on a model of the Polytechnic of Turin -. The outcome was rather disappointing. Checks carried out in May and June by the Traffic Police revealed a gloomy picture. Smooth tires were on average around 9%, with peaks of more than 20% in some provinces. "Compared to 2011, non-conformities relating only to tires have increased significantly - explained Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma -. In fact, for every vehicle found to be non-conforming in 2011, now there are two and a half. The average age of the vehicles in circulation keeps going up and maintenance seems to be less of a priority, resulting in 1 in 5 cars with tire issues. The Associations are therefore called upon to spread a “tire culture”, besides insisting on roadside checks and work towards decreasing the costs of maintenance, as well as promoting a progressive renewal of the cars currently in circulation”. The data presented showed that there is a direct correlation between non-compliant vehicles and the registration date: in fact, older vehicles had a much higher percentage of smooth, damaged or uneven tires compared to vehicles that are still waiting to go through the first MOT inspection test, which is mandatory for all cars after the first 4 years of age and must afterwards be carried out every 2 years. Among the vehicles checked, those aged 10 or more years, had twice as many tire issues compared to younger vehicles. "Thanks to the initiative Safe Holidays - said Giovanni Busacca director of the Traffic Police - we continue to draw the attention of motorists on the importance of careful maintenance, particularly tires since travelling with these in perfect condition is a fundamental condition for driving in safety. Anything that influences road safety must be considered: driving with smooth, damaged, non-compliant tires, exposes drivers to a high risk of road accidents, and represents a negligent behaviour with a negative impact on the entire traffic system. A sudden tire failure or tread wear beyond the legal limit, can cause serious road accidents. The advice is to pay constant attention to the condition of the tires, especially before embarking on a long journey. The tools that the State Police has at its disposal to curb this negative trend includes a 360-degree commitment to prevention, controls and information, all aimed at promoting a new cultural approach to compliance”. Not all was negative, though. Overall, there is still a lot of work to be done in different areas. In 4.5% of all cases different tires were fitted on the same axles, and sometimes two summer tires were found on the rear axle while at the front a couple of winter tires often of a different brand, a set up often referred to as “mixed equipment”. If the first case can be considered a punishable non-conformity, for the second (mixed equipment), there are no specific prohibitions, even if this may constitute a serious danger. Reason why the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport has strongly advised against it, seeing its inability to change regulations established at European level. In addition, 2.7% of the sample considered had tires that did not comply with the registration certificate, while 3.3% were found with non-approved tires and 4.4% of the cars investigated had tires that were visibly damaged. This year's checks also revealed another significant phenomenon, such as the use of winter equipment in the summer months. In fact, 36% of the cars stopped were equipped with winter tires, 50% of which were M+S marked only and the remaining 50% were marked with the Alpine pictogram. While it is true that the use of winter tires all year round is permitted, provided that they have the full performance characteristics stated in the registration certificate, it is likewise true that many drivers equip their vehicles with winter tires with lower speed ratings. This habit is allowed by law only in the coldest period, between October 15 and May 15. Moreover, the Ministry has clearly expressed its opinion by recommending the use of tires suitable for the seasonal period and by not recommending the use of winter tires in the hottest time of the year. You don't have to be a expert to understand that fitting your car to go to the coast with winter tires in summer would be like going to the beach with mountain boots instead of flip-flops.


2019 National fleet and sample investigated 

In Italy, more than 51 million vehicles are registered, 39 million of which are vehicles with an average age of 11 years and 8 months (source: ACI). The circulating fleet in our country is ageing significantly: 56% of the cars are over 10 years old, and the figure is worsening.

It should be noted that this year's sample investigated by the Traffic Police is significantly younger than the national average, as it was 7 years and 11 months.

The sample's cross-section also shows that 40% of the cars checked were about 4 years old, 22% between 4 and 10 years old, while 38% of the cars checked were over 10 years old.

The motorists stopped were 73% men and 27% women, of whom 19% were under the age of 30, 49% were between 30 and 50 and 32% were over 50. The regions surveyed (Lazio, Marche, Piedmont, Puglia, Tuscany, Umbria and Valle D'Aosta) boast 15 million vehicles, representing 35% of the national fleet.

The data clearly showed a direct relationship between the age of the vehicles and the state of the tires: the older the car the less compliant the tires.

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