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Safety warning: 1 out of 5 cars not in order!

Tires under control

The 2016 edition of the “Safe Holidays” campaign, promoted by Assogomma along with the Traffic Police, points fingers at the general health of tires around the country and its potential negative impact on road safety

Paolo Ferrini

Road safety has not remained immune to the hard economic recession and the reduced purchasing power of most Italian families. The growing number of obsolete cars and, consequently, worn out tires currently running on Italian roads is disturbingly high. As reported by the 2016 edition of the “Safe Holidays” survey – traditionally issued at the beginning of the holiday season by Assogomma with the collaboration of Federpneus and  the Traffic Police, and now in its thirteenth year – 52% of the cars currently running on our roads exceed 10 years of age with an average age of 11,4 years, and, to make matters worse, the number of cars equipped with worn out  tires has increased significantly compared to a year ago, going from 5.63% to 6.82%, twice as much as in 2014 (3.03%).

The fact is, as rightly pointed out by Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma “that an increasing number of people having to choose between basic needs and tire replacements, choose the first. How can you blame them? ". The immediate consequence is a widespread deterioration of vehicle conditions, which inevitably affects road safety. In the first half of 2015, for example, the “virtuous” trend of the previous few years was significantly reversed, and unfortunately victims of road accidents grew by + 7.4% (ACI-INSTAT data).

A solution offered by Assogomma, would be to encourage spending on car maintenance with a 50% tax deduction, as is already happening in other sectors. This proposal, endorsed also by national institutions, would surely have a positive impact on road safety as well as the economy in general.


“Safe Holidays” 2016; the results 

Obsolete cars and worn out tires, though, are not the only problems highlighted by “Safe Holidays” 2016. If we add that 5.96% of inspected vehicles were equipped with mismatching tires, different tire brands or models on the same axle, or different types (summer and winter) on the two axles (3.4% in 2015), and if we consider that 3.02% of all cases examined were equipped with visibly damaged tires, and that 2.23% were not even approved and that in early June, 11.36% of the inspected vehicles still had winter tires on, the emerging picture is nothing short of alarming.

The results are, if anything, even worse if the light transport segment is taken into account. Here, while the average age of vehicles is  9 years, the percentage of worn out tires soars to 8,51%, mismatching tires to 15,19%, visibly damaged tires up to 4.86%, and non-approved products to 4.46% not to mention winter tires equipping 14.04% of all inspected vehicles.


Spontaneous comments from the promoters 

"These data must be considered very carefully and as a whole," says Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma. "Smooth, damaged and non-approved tires, mismatching and non-complying  equipment not to mention winter tires used during the hottest summer months are the litmus test of a chronic lack of maintenance, something that should increase with the progressive aging of vehicles and that it is actually worsening. The inspected sample showed how after 10 years of use, maintenance collapses vertically, as if to mean that for older vehicles the rule is, ‘not a penny more’. This rather un-virtuous behavior is even more evident on light transport vehicles and keeps progressively growing with the aging of the vehicle. The result is quite disconcerting: there are millions of potentially dangerous vehicles freely circulating on our roads ".

Giuseppe Bisogno, Traffic Police director adds: "The Traffic Police has always been at the forefront in ensuring road safety for all road users. But all these inspection activities must go hand in hand with a growing awareness that correct vehicle equipment, is the primary condition if one is to enjoy a safe journey. Unfortunately, too few motorists pay attention to the fact that safety also depends on the state and conformity of the tires, our vehicle’s “shoes”. We need to promote and spread a culture of safety; motorist must learn to travel in highly reliable conditions; smooth and damaged tires, or worse, non-complying ones, are definitely not able to provide this type of guarantee".


What was inspected? 

So far, during the 2016 Safe Holidays program, a total of almost 12,000 vehicles were inspected, including cars and vans: the highest number since the program began 13 years ago. In the period between May 15 and June 20, six regions were involved (Piedmont, Valle d'Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany and Western Sicily), all characterized by a high volume of traffic, both local and foreign, for work and/or holidays, as they are the crossroads of the main north-south and east-west motorways.

Tire and MOT inspections were carried out in regions with 14 million registered vehicles accounting for 39% of all running vehicles.

Inspected cars took the lion share with 10,085 controls, followed by 1,481 checks on light transport vehicles (goods and people) while the remaining inspections were performed on caravans and car trailers. It is worth noting that for the first time, a specific focus has been placed on light truck tires.

Inspections carried out by the Traffic Police focused on tire wear, approval, compliance with the registration certificate, matching tires or mismatching configurations, winter / summer tires, besides the usual controls, including MOT tests. All the data were then processed on a model created by the Politecnico di Torino Department of Mechanical Engineering.

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