Red Marlin

Paralysed driver pays terrible price with part worn tyres

Press Release   •   Aug 08, 2012 15:19 BST

A motorist paralysed in a horrific car accident when driving on part worn tyres is hoping his story will urge other drivers to think twice about which tyres they choose.

Keith Johnston, 41 from Tyne and Wear suffered terrible life-changing injuries in the smash earlier this year and is now permanently paralysed from the top of his chest down, only able to move his arms and neck.

Apart from the severe physical injuries he has also experienced damaging emotional scars, often enduring nightmarish flashbacks to the fateful day on 8th February when he was driving his Renault Megane Scenic near Carlisle.

With temperatures well below freezing at the time of the accident, when going round a bend the car lost control, bumped across the road and rolled down a ditch. However, there was one miracle – the four passengers in the car escaped uninjured.

All of the tyres on the car had recently been purchased in a part-worn condition and a police investigation blamed them as a major contributory factor in the accident.

The front pair had only been recently fitted but the rear tyres were found to have an illegal tread depth even though they had only been on the car for a couple of months.

Keith had always bought part worn tyres and replaced them every few months, unaware of the safety risks associated with buying used tyres.

“I thought I was saving money with part worn tyres but I’ve paid a terrible price,” said Keith. “If I knew then what I know now, I would never have bought part worn tyres.

“Unfortunately for me it’s too late but I would urge other drivers to steer clear of part worn tyres and always opt for brand new ones.”

Keith has already spent several months undergoing intensive rehabilitation in hospital but he is hoping to return home shortly when he will have to adapt to his new life with round-the-clock care.

“My life has changed for ever but I hope that some good can come out of it. My message is think again if you are considering fitting part worn tyres,” said Keith.

His plight is highlighted as TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation, recently revealed the alarming findings of an ongoing investigation it carried out with Auto Express magazine into part worn tyres.

Having bought 50 part worn tyres, the tyres were inspected by an independent tyre expert who found that 98 per cent of the tyres were being sold illegally. However, perhaps more concerning was that over a third of the tyres were found to contain other potentially dangerous forms of damage or non-compliance with part worn tyre legislation.

Indeed, one tyre was described as having the “potential to kill” as it still contained a metal object penetrating 5cm through the tread in a manner which was likely to result in sudden and total tyre failure had it been fitted to a vehicle.

Other serious safety breaches included dangerous and unsafe repairs, exposed cords, bead damage and evidence of runflat damage.

Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe: “All tyres suffer from wear over time but TyreSafe always advocates the fitting of brand new tyres as the safest option.

“It’s impossible to know the history of part worn tyres and the true extent of any damage which may have occurred inside the tyre. Only by choosing brand new tyres can you be sure that it is free for any hidden dangers and able to offer the safest driving possible.”

For further information about tyre safety and part worn tyres, visit

TyreSafe is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of correct tyre maintenance and the dangers of defective and worn tyres.

In 2009, TyreSafe was awarded with the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award in recognition of its achievements in raising awareness about the dangers associated with driving on defective and worn tyres.

TyreSafe supports the government’s ACT ON CO2 campaign which promotes Smarter Driving tips to help cut CO2 emissions from driving.

TyreSafe is a signatory to the European Road Safety Charter which aims to reduce road fatalities.

TyreSafe is a supporter of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety which aims to make roads safer and save lives.