Paralysed man rues cheap tyres

2012-08-12 22:15

It's a strong lesson for South African drivers thinking of skimping on tyre replacement. One in England has made a point of telling how he was paralysed after buying cheap, worn rubber for his MPV. 

Keith Johnston from Tyne & Wear in north-east England suffered life-changing injuries in a crash earlier in 2012 and is now permanently paralysed from the top of his chest down. He can only move his arms and neck.


Apart from the severe physical injuries, he also experienced emotional scars relating to the February 8 crash when he was driving his Renault Scenic in below-freezing temperatures and lost control on a curve. The car rolled into a ditch; his four passengers, fortunately, were not hurt.

All the tyres on the Scenic had recently been bought in a used condition and were blamed as a major factor in the incident by a police investigation. The rear tyres had less than the legal tread depth.

Johnston, however, admitted he had always bought worn tyres, unaware of the risks associated with them.

He said: “I thought I was saving money with part-worn tyres but I’ve paid a terrible price. Unfortunately for me it’s too late but I would urge other drivers to steer clear of worn tyres - always opt for brand-new ones.”


Johnston’s plight is the focus of a UK tyre safety campaign led by TyreSafe, a tyre safety organisation. It recently revealed the findings of an ongoing investigation carried out with Auto Express magazine into worn tyres.

An independent tyre expert bought 50 used tyres and found 98% of them were sold illegally. A third of them had potentially dangerous damage; other serious safety issues included dangerous repairs, exposed cords and evidence of run-flat damage. One was described as "having the potential to kill".

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe's chairman, said: “It’s impossible to know the history of used tyres and the true extent of any damage which may have occurred inside the tyre. All tyres suffer from wear over time but TyreSafe always advocates the fitting of new one as the safest option.”

Have you bought used tyres? They're sold freely at roadside stalls - perhaps its time for a government clampdown on such outlets. Tell us what you think in the Readers' Comments section below.

  • verysourboy - 2012-08-13 09:44

    The traffic department have proved time and time again they couldn't care less about road safety. Unless we can find a way for them to make money out of it they won't lift a damn finger. Last week during the heavy rain storms I was stuck in a string of traffic behind a very slow moving vehicle. Turns out it was a minibus taxi full of passengers and the driver couldn't see where he was going because the wipers weren't working. And usually you can say where's a traffic cop when you need one, but not in this case.... 2 traffic cops passed the taxi doing 30-35kph in an 80 zone and did nothing. Too much effort to get out of the car in the rain to make the road safer, they'd rather go hide under a bridge with their camera and go after the easy money. I don't blame drunk drivers, cheap tyres, unroadworthy cars or speeding for the thousands of accidents on South Africa's roads. I blame the traffic department. If they were more interested in making roads safer than they are in making money by going after easy targets like someone who breaks the speed limit slightly, our roads would be a much safer place.

      afrikeni - 2012-08-13 10:26

      Your last paragraph partly defeats your whole logic. Because we have indisputable ineffective traffic policing, then you accept drivers who break the law with impunity. Two wrongs don't make it right.

      sikhumbuzok - 2012-08-13 20:38

      typical comment from ppl of some sections of our society; they find every reason to wheedle Govt into everything. You buy defective 2nd hand tyres or even cheap imports; you have an accident and you blame Govt. Look at yourself first and ask what can i do?

  • dhuisamen1 - 2012-08-14 12:41

    Near us on a main road, is a school with a 80km/h speed limit pass the school. One Saturday afternoon, I was driving past the school and just 20 metres before the 100km'h sign, I was trapped at 83km/h and got a R300 fine through the post. On that same stretch of road, a guy passed traffic on double white lines, five times. That was in the 20kms I have seen him. There were no cops on the road, just the camera. I rather change tyres earlier than needed and keep vehicles in a roadworthy condition, but the main stream of lawless drivers, do not care. They know they can break the law as they like, but just stay in the speed limits.

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