Frances Molloy steps up tyre safety campaign to prevent further tragedies

Liverpool mother’s 18-year-old musician son Michael Molloy was one of three people killed in a coach crash in 2012 that was caused by the poor state of a 19-year-old tyre. Tony McDonough reports

Frances Molloy with her son, Michael, who died in a coach crash in 2012 aged just 18

Hugely talented Liverpool musician Michael Molloy was just 18 when he died in a coach crash on his way home from a music festival in September 2012.

Almost five years on, his mother Frances Molloy still struggles to come to terms with his passing – and what compounds her anguish was that the tragedy was entirely preventable.

The coach Michael was travelling back from the Bestival event on the Isle of Wight in crashed because of a faulty tyre that was almost 20 years old.

He was one of three people to die that night. Kerry Ogden, 23, and the 53-year-old driver, Colin Daulby, also perished.

Campaign push

Now a campaign called Tyred has been launched by Frances to change the law to prevent the needless loss of more lives.

The coroner who presided over the inquest into Michael, Kerry and Colin wrote to the Government appealing for legislation on the ages to tyres fitted to public service vehicles  (PSVs) to be changed to prevent more deaths.

However, instead of changing the law, the Department for Transport simply amended guidelines which only recommend, but crucially do not require, that tyres more than 10 years old should not be fitted to vehicles.

“I am determined that no other families should suffer the pain that we have,” said Frances.

“I couldn’t believe that there are no legal requirements on the age of tyres for PSVs and I’m sure most parents would be concerned to know that their child could be travelling on a bus with dangerously old tyres fitted.

“We need people to get behind the campaign, by writing to their MPs asking for a change in the law and ensuring that they always ask coach operators what their policy is on the age of tyres they use on their vehicles.”

Legal requirement

The Tyred campaign says that issuing guidelines is not enough and that a legal requirement is needed.

Although tyres on PSVs do undergo inspections, it is very difficult to spot the type of internal deterioration that caused the tyre on Michael, Kerry and Colin’s coach to fail.

Due to the way that data is captured, it is impossible to estimate how many people are killed each year as a result of old tyres on PSVs such as buses, coaches and minibuses.

However, the last set of published figures show that 200 people are injured every week and 90 people are killed every month on PSVs.

Tyres are the single largest contributing factor when causalities arise from vehicle failings on UK roads and in 2015 there were more than 38,000 tyre-related callouts on motorways and A-roads.

Industry consensus

There is a consensus within the tyre industry that 10 years is the absolute maximum age that a tyre is safe to be used, with some even saying that six years should be the legal limit.

PSVs such as coaches have a yearly road safety check and industry leaders agree that tyre age checking could be easily implemented as part of this to prevent more tragedies from happening.

Michael Molloy, who died aged 18, was a hugely talented musician

Stefan Hay, chief executive of the National Tyre Distributors Association, added: “Tyres are a critical safety component and the only thing keeping a vehicle safe on the road.

“Regular tyre maintenance is essential for safety of both drivers and passengers of PSVs.

“Unfortunately, as 27% of drivers state that they do not maintain or even check the safety of their tyres, it is clear that we have a big problem.”

High-profile support

Tyred has also recruited high-profile politicians to act as ambassadors for the campaign and the new Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotherham, introduced a backbench bill when he was a Member of Parliament in 2014.

Another ambassador for the campaign is Frances Molloy’s MP, Maria Eagle, who is a former Shadow Transport Secretary.

“Losing Michael was life-changing but we are doing what we can to prevent others losing their lives in such tragic circumstances,” said Frances.

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