Each day, school buses carry thousands and thousands of our children to and from school. Proper maintenance of school buses to assure our children are safe cannot be stressed enough. Inspection and replacement of school bus tires is critical. Recently, aging school bus tires have garnered well deserved attention. Investigations of school buses in Alabama and other states have uncovered school buses equipped with tires that are 8, 9, 10 and even 13 years old.
Tire aging is perhaps the most dangerous tire defect because it cannot be seen and most people are not aware of the dangers of aged tires. A tire might look brand new and might not have ever been used, but research and testing shows that when tires reach a certain age, those tires can break down from the inside, de-treading upon use and causing fatal accidents. Since 2005, car makers have warned that a tire should be replaced and not used after six years regardless of use or appearance. Tire makers warn that tires should be replaced after 10 years.
Despite the dangers of tire aging, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) still refuses to establish a tire-aging standard. Alabama, like almost every other state, has no requirement that the school districts replace tires at a certain age. A tire aging standard would not only make it easier for school districts to determine a tire’s age, but would also be very persuasive, if not mandate that school districts take tires out of service at a specified date, regardless of what the tire looks like on the outside.
Currently, the Alabama Department of Education tire inspection procedures conform to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, which provide requirements for tread depth, tire condition, and tire inflation. Our state and local inspectors use these requirements to determine when to replace tires rather than the date a tire was manufactured. While tires should be inspected for these conditions, tire age should not be ignored.
Every effort should be made to provide the safest transportation for our most precious cargo – our students. Old tires on school buses are ticking time bombs that should be removed now. If you need more information, contact Rick Morrison, a lawyer in our firm who has successfully handled tire cases for the firm. Rick can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rick.Morrison@beasleyallen.com.
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