• Support for law to cut tyre noise and emissions

    MEPs have breathed new life into the Commission’s draft directive on making tyres quieter and more energy-efficient.

    The European Parliament’s internal market committee voted earlier this month to support the legislation published in May, which will mean the noisiest and most inefficient tyres will have to be phased out and withdrawn from sale. 

    The vote effectively overturns the one by MEPs on the industry committee last month which tried to severely weaken the proposed standards.

    T&E policy officer Nina Renshaw said: ‘It is good to see that the parliament has woken up to the threat road traffic poses to citizens and seems ready to act.  More importantly, action on tyres is a win/win, as it benefits the health of citizens and cuts down on fuel consumption.’

    A major factor in the internal market committee taking a stricter stance than the industry committee was the publication of a report commissioned by the parliament’s rapporteur, Andreas Schwab.  It suggested that cutting tyre noise could endanger road safety, but this was strongly disputed by experts at a Parliament hearing.

    The report, carried out by a Spanish research organisation Cidaut with the tyre maker Michelin as a partner, was published internally in the week before the vote, and instantly discredited by a range of experts. A group of academics from five EU member states sent a letter saying the claim of a trade-off between low noise and a tyre’s ability to grip in wet weather was based on outdated evidence and was not valid with today’s technology.

    The one weakening in the internal market committee vote was to put back the deadline for stopping the sale of the worst tyres from 2018 to 2019.

    But MEPs strengthened the Commission’s proposal by calling for tyre pressure monitoring systems to have a greater degree of accuracy than originally proposed, to ensure that the driver will be warned of pressure changes that increase fuel consumption.

    Researchers have calculated that around 50 000 people in the EU die prematurely each year from heart attacks caused by road traffic noise.

    The draft legislation now goes to ministers.

    • The Commission has drafted legislation that would oblige tyre makers to give information about the environmental performance of a tyre.  Makers would have to put labels on tyres covering noise, wet grip (safety) and rolling resistance (energy efficiency). The idea is to encourage consumers to buy more fuel-efficient and less noisy tyres.