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05/09/2011
Safe holidays takes stock

Monitoring Tyres

The results of the initiative "Safe Holidays 2011", promoted by Assogomma and Federpneus, which involved Traffic Police in checking 6,500 vehicles in Lazio, Liguria and Sicily

Paolo Ferrini

The survey is a photograph of the situation at a specific moment of the year (the weeks immediately preceding the start of the summer holidays) and although the sample of 6,500 vehicles checked out of 36 million in circulation is insufficient proof statistically, it does suggest that the trend may well be the same in other parts of Italy.

 

Contradiction. It's not true that we really look after the tyres on our cars. If the data that emerged last year from the "Safe Holidays" campaign promoted by Assogomma and Federpneus in collaboration with the Traffic Police, showed that Italian drivers were paying more attention to their car tyres, this year there has been an obvious step backwards.
12.52% of the almost 6,500 vehicles that were checked in May and June 2011 in Lazio, Liguria and Northwest Sicily, had various problems with their tyres (wear, pressures, damage, but also non-homologated tyres or tyres that did not match). "A panorama that is far from reassuring", as Assogomma director Fabio Bertolotti emphasized.
The survey is a photograph of the situation at a specific moment of the year (the weeks immediately preceding the start of the summer holidays) and although the sample of 6,500 vehicles checked out of 36 million in circulation is insufficient proof statistically, it does suggest that the trend may well be the same in other parts of Italy.
So we venture into the realm of supposition and, given that we can't imagine that tyres will be suddenly or unexpectedly rejected by users, it can be explained in part by the economic crisis and its inevitable effect on the wallet of many car drivers.
Without forgetting a certain basic laziness and negligence (that was, is and, let's admit it, we Italians will always have). It is a fact that the percentage of vehicles found with non-homologated tyres has leaped from one year to another from an almost insignificant 0.8% to an important 4.9%, which leads us to suppose that when they chose new tyres, many Italian drivers were tempted by immediate savings to the detriment, perhaps, of quality and forgot that the real reckoning comes at the end.
Economic problems would also explain why the percentage of vehicles with different types of types (not homogeneous) had almost doubled from 1.7% to 2.6%, as did damaged tyres, from 2.7% to 4.3%, and those with smooth tyres increased to 2.6%. Probably, many users don't know that tyre specialists don't charge for checking the state of tyres and prefer to postpone a "check-up" they imagine will be expensive and not exactly indispensable. Because basically, let's admit it, the public still doesn't pay much attention to tyres: a glance at tread depth and pressures, but perhaps not even that.
In our opinion, the financial aspects also explain the high percentage (6.3%) of vehicles that are still circulating with winter tyres. Someone will have said, "once they've been mounted, why change them? After all, winter will be back sooner or later!". And off they go with winter tyres despite an outside temperature of 30°C!
This brings us back to the start. "Users are unaware of the importance of tyres" admitted Roberto Sgalla, director of the Traffic Police Service. Certainly, even if it is true that ignorance of the law is no defence, it is undeniable that we have to communicate with the public. 

 

• Non-homologated tyres 

 

According to a survey carried out as part of the Safe Holidays 2011 campaign, 4.9% of Italian cars circulate with non-homologated tyres.
"There is a considerable increase in the phenomenon: not just in Italy, but in all European Union countries", said Fabio Bertolotti of Assogomma, who hopes that there will be more monitoring at frontiers and of distribution channels (internet included). "Otherwise, we will be invaded by brands that have not been checked and products that are potentially dangerous". Homologation is essential for being certain that the tyres bought have been checked by the competent authorities and have been certified for use.
Basically, recognizing an homologated tyre - which meets certain characteristics of size and guarantees constant performance - from a non-homologated tyre is something everyone is capable of. Just look at the side of the tyre. The many indications, letters and markings should include the homologation sign: a capital "E" within a circle or a small "e" in a rectangle followed by the identification number of the country that issued the homologation (3 in the case of Italy).
Let's not forget that the fine for anyone who imports, manufactures for sale in Italy, or sells non-homologated tyres is from 779 to 3,119 euros, and from 80 to 318 euros for those who drive with them. Car drivers who mount non-homologated tyres could also have their vehicle seized and confiscated. Not to mention that insurance companies could lay the blame on them to avoid paying for any accidents. And above all there is the question of safety: non-homologated tyres are a potential danger for ourselves and for other road users. 

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