Johannesburg - The one material we’re highly dependent on for road safety is rubber; regardless of your vehicle, what's keeping you from leaving the tar and crashing are tyres, says the South African Tyre Manufacturing Conference (SATMC).
Nobuzwe Mangcu, Managing executive of the SATMC, says tyres are the first and foremost element of a vehicle’s safety and control.
Industry analysts have calculated that the total number of motor vehicles currently on the road is in the region of 1.3-billion – of which 95% are light duty vehicles. It’s estimated, says the SATMC, that this number will double in 25 years.
The SATMC said: "With 1.3-billion vehicles on the road, we are looking at 5.2-billion tyres supporting them – and that’s without considering spare tyres and heavy duty trucks or trailers fitted with anything from 10 to 100 tyres."
Here are 5 things you should know about tyres in SA:
1 Defective tyres are a hazard on the road
Mangcu: "Tyres are the only contact between you and the road, bearing your car’s weight by touching the surface on an area but the size of a small postcard. Filled with air they transmit traction and brake force, and act as springs absorbing shocks for your comfort. That is, if your car is wearing a set of healthy tyres."
Worn and defective tyres, on the other hand, should not be underestimated, says the SATMC.
Mangcu said: "Poor tyres can reduce the performance of your car, increase your stopping distance, raise the risk of skidding, and, if under-inflated or worn, bad tyres will increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
"Various studies on fatal collisions have further shown that defective tyres are one of the leading contributors – representing as much as two thirds of vehicle factors responsible for collisions."
2 Local companies need support
The South African tyre manufacturing industry faces global competition from approximately 200 importers of tyres of various brands.
Mangcu said: "The biggest problem is that a substantial amount of these tyres don’t undergo regulatory procedures, especially those shipped in from the Far East. As a result many unsafe new and used tyres are sold to the public.
"Our tyre industry should strive to more strictly regulate the tyres reaching our shores. This begs for deeper conversations pertaining to legislation, education and safety processes necessary to ensure that the industry advances the safety of our motorists."
3 Millions of tyres are sold in SA
Most countries have compulsory specifications for tyres, says Mangcu. Ultimately the onus rests with importers and manufacturers to ensure compliance with legal requirements; yet, for the general public it’s just as important to become acquainted with these regulations.
She says: "In 2015 alone, 11-million tyres were sold in South Africa – with two-million exported, and about five-million imported.
"In addition, South Africa’s local tyre manufacturing industry has over the past few years been galvanised by a R4-billion collective investment injection toward enhancing tyre production facilities. This in turn has led to significant strides made by manufacturers in remodelling production processes to improve capacity and to ensure adherence to stringent safety requirements."
Visit the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) for public road use legal criteria pertaining to tyres.
4 South African tyre safety rules and regulations
All tyres for use on all kinds of vehicles and trailers must conform to compulsory safety standards. To ensure compliance, tyres are subjected to an approval process.
Of relevance here is the Compulsory Specification: VC8056 ECE Regulation 30 for all new pneumatic (operated by air or gas under pressure) tyres for passenger cars and trailers, and Compulsory Specification: VC8059 ECE Regulation 54 for new pneumatic tyres for commercial vehicles and trailers.
Both these regulations require tyres to have the ‘E’ mark on the tyre and the concomitant E Certificate as proof of compliance on the part of the manufacturer – with the compulsory specifications and verification that the manufacturer operates a quality management system that’s certified by an accredited authority.
5 Homologation - know the word
The big buzzword in tyre standards is ‘homologation’, which literally means ‘to approve or confirm officially’. For the sake of road safety, consumers should also acquaint themselves with this term.
Homologation has been part of our tyre industry from as early as 1996 and represents a measure to minimise the risk of non-complying tyres being introduced to market and subsequently sold to the public.
It’s a procedure that kicks in before a tyre is imported or released for sale. All importers and manufacturers have to homologate all tyres through the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications’ (NRCS) before selling them.
Advice for motorists:
SATMC: "For your own safety and that of your fellow passengers, always ensure that your tyres are in a healthy condition, properly maintained and appropriate for your specific type of vehicle.
"Drivers failing to look after and replace their tyres are risking lives, while company car managers allowing their drivers to drive with defective tyres are failing in their legal duty of care."