Road safety starts at your local tire specialist
Police clampdown on tire dealers: 22% of the businesses checked are non-compliant, and 9% down right illegal. Trade associations are also calling for a reform of Law 122/92 to protect retailers against unfair competition.
Italian tire dealers, some more some less, are well acquainted with the phenomenon of unfair competition and some are struggling to stay on the market in the face of "dirt-cheap offers" from improvised operators who think that owning a tire changer is enough to open a business. This perception was confirmed by the results of an inspection campaign the police carried out in 2018 throughout Italy which were illustrated in February during a conference entitled "Tires and Road Safety: the voice of the operators and the key role of the tire dealer" which was held in Rome at the ACI headquarters.
According to the research, out of 749 businesses inspected, 166 (22%) were found to be non-compliant, 69 were actually illegal, i.e. not registered in the Chamber of Commerce as a qualified tire specialist, 9% of those examined. In total, 280 sanctions were dished out, 35 charges were filed and 63 businesses seized. Giovanni Busacca, Traffic Police Director, in presenting these figures stressed that "it is necessary to find effective solutions to stem a phenomenon that is negatively affecting the entire road system. The dangers of reckless and illegal conducts such as fitting non-approved or poorly maintained tires, require greater attention and increasingly tight controls throughout the supply chain”. Trade associations are definitely on the same wave length and organised the conference together with the Police: for Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma, in fact "producing tires in compliance with all technical and legal regulations, or buying the best known brands, or choosing tires that are approved and suitable for one's vehicle and/or the season, will hardly be sufficient if not enough attention is paid to correct mounting procedures and proper maintenance".
Renzo Servadei, secretary general of Federpneus, recalled another crucial element: in a scenario of strong technological innovation in the field of mobility, tire specialists "must be real professionals, able to suggest the right choice of tire and the correct mounting procedures", all the more important as wheel units are increasingly connected with electronic devices designed to manage Adas systems, already popular on several premium models, making it necessary to adjust the parameters of the car when working on a vehicle providing the on-board computer with the correct information on the new set up.
Giuseppe Calì, national spokesman for CNA’s tire section, spoke of "a widespread DIY scenario, and market crisis and their negative consequences on road safety, unfair competition and environmental damage”. This confirms the crucial role of lawful behaviours, but also sanctions and penalties against illegal practices, but even more importantly proper training and professionalism, not to mention the reform of Law 122/92. The whole supply chain is calling for a serious reform of Law 122/92 aimed at establishing a list of minimum equipment necessary to carry out business as a tire specialist, the restoration of the National register of tire dealers, declaration of conformity, inspections and severe penalties against illegal practices.
At the end of the meeting, the Prefect Roberto Sgalla, Police Central Director, recalling the important work done over the years in raising the public’s awareness on the vital role played by tires in road safety, stressed the essential role of a proper synergy between the different actors in the sector: institutions, associations, operators and citizens. For the purposes of preventing offences, in fact, the associations role in selecting tire operators and specialists is also central: the strategy, therefore, focuses on assigning a well-deserved recognition to serious entrepreneurs and close ranks against improvised retailers and illegal businesses.