The tyred Campaign team.

The question of safety on our roads has always been considered a major issue and yet still tyres remain a product of concerning neglect from both dealers and drivers. A perfect example of this situation can be found in the case of Frances Molloy, whose son Michael tragically lost his life at just 18 years old.

Michael was one of three victims of a horrific crash in Surrey, caused directly by the catastrophic failure of a 20 year old second hand tyre. The coach carrying Michael Molloy, Kerry Ogden and Colin Daulby was travelling back from the music festival, Bestival, when it crashed.

Frances Molloy

Since the crash, Frances has embarked upon a dedicated and determined campaign to ban all tyres being fitted to public service vehicles that are over the age of ten years old. It has been a long, hard struggle but, despite a number of significant setbacks, she has battled on with her personal quest in memory of her son Michael.

Friday 30 June emerged as a crucial turning point in her growing crusade when the official launch of the tyred campaign took place in Liverpool, organised by an increasing team of supporters including leading Liverpool-based marketing agency, Agent Marketing.

This highly charged press conference announced to the UK tyre industry and the Government its firm intention to get the law changed for aged tyres as soon as possible was supported by many influential people from the UK tyre and automotive market sector, as well as a number of politicians. These include: Stefan Hay, CEO of the NTDA (National Tyre Distributors Association), Malcolm Kennedy, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Vinay Parmar, Executive Director of National Express (Coaches), Maria Eagle MP and Steve Rotherham, Mayor of Liverpool City Region. Steve was an early source of help and inspiration to Frances.

The press conference was opened by Frank McKenna, CEO of Downtown in Business Liverpool who pointed out that this campaign should not be necessary as already two coroners (commenting on the case) have put on record that it is a ‘disgrace’ that legislation was not already in force to prevent the use of 20 year old tyres. It seems that the last two Government Transport Ministers have failed to recognise the importance of this road safety issue. Frances Molloy also delivered a heartfelt account of the accident which only further enhanced the desperate need to make sure this Government Bill is passed sooner rather than later.

The destroyed 20-year old coach tyre that killed Michael Molloy

The fact that prior to the press conference, Vinay Parmar of National Express Coaches had confirmed that his company had agreed to become tyred’s first commercial supporter was a terrific boost for the campaign team. Mr Parmar admitted that because of what happened to Michael has made National Express closely examine its own operation in terms of tyre safety. He adds, “We would never want to see such a preventable tragedy like this happen to one of our coaches or anywhere in our industry as our customers’ safety has always and will remain a paramount priority for National Express. This is why we wholeheartedly support the tyred campaign as partners.”

Stefan Hay of the NTDA also gave a shocking insight into the very real dangers of sub-standard tyres being fitted to vehicles, stating that they are a critical component on any vehicle but sadly are also one of the most neglected.

“Statistics have consistently proved that tyres are the largest single contributor to road accidents resulting in casualties with the simple reason being drivers’ negative attitudes towards their tyres.

“Last year, the NTDA conducted a national survey involving 340,000 tyres and quite honestly the results were frightening as over 27% of these tyres were already ‘illegal’, meaning that at this moment around 10 million vehicles on our roads are fitted with potentially lethal tyres. So there is no enforcement of effective regulations which means there is ‘no deterrent’, which in turn leads to neglect.”

Finally, Maria Eagle MP delivered a straight-talking presentation on why the tyred campaign is so important.

“What is so amazing and frustrating about this issue is that it does not cost the Government anything to change the law on tyres. To be honest, this is not a political matter between parties but just good, old-fashioned ‘common sense’. The enforcement of this campaign is so easy and straight forward so what is there not to like about it? So let’s just get it done,” she said.

Ms Eagle also pointed out that when approached, Chris Grayling MP, Transport Minister, flatly refused to meet her to discuss the matter which has made her even more determined to get legislation banning the use of tyres older than ten years in place.

Without doubt, the launch of the tyred campaign was lively and powerful and filled with determination and passion from a variety of guests from politicians through to the local and national media. This is just the beginning and will conclude eventually in the passing of a new bill banning old and dangerous tyres.

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This article originally appeared in FACTS 131. To read the magazine in full: