Last month I wrote about the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) plan to make safety recommendations regarding aged and recalled tires. The Board’s recommendations were a culmination of more than a year’s study of four wrecks caused by tire failures that took numerous lives and caused several injuries. The tires that failed were either recalled or aged tires. I have written about the dangers of aged tires and the cases we have handled, but the extreme safety issue caused by recalled (defective) tires that remain in use is frightening.
In its report, the NTSB noted that only 44 percent – fewer than half – of all tires recalled for safety problems are actually removed from roadways. This is due to an ineffective and broken system that leaves drivers and their passengers at risk. A lack of information is partly to blame, but misinformation has also been problematic, the agency said. The NTSB said:
The current tire registration process has proven to be ineffective in enabling tire manufacturers to compile complete and accurate customer contact information, which is vital to ensuring the success of a tire recall.
The NTSB took issue with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which it said relies on a cumbersome online tool that could mislead consumers into thinking their tires haven’t been recalled. In order to combat the confusion surrounding tire recalls, the NTSB recommended that NHTSA develop a database that would allow dealers to register tire owners when they make a purchase, storing customers’ email addresses and other contact information in case of a recall. The tire identification and recall system, which have relied on manual review of hard to find information, must be automated in order to alert techs – and consumers – to tire service life recommendations and recalls. With automated tire tracking, these critical elements of tire safety come together, and service techs can tell a consumer with the swipe of a scanner if a particular tire is recalled and if it’s at the end of its service life.
Tire manufacturers could also do more, such as posting regular updates about recalls in prominent locations on their websites and including identification numbers on both sides of tires, the agency said. The NTSB added that consumers should be able to search for recalls by either tire identification numbers or by brand and model through manufacturers and NHTSA.
The NTSB should be commended. The tire identification and recall system is broken and has cost the lives of too many innocent victims. The tire industry and NHTSA need to follow suit and act before another life is lost or lives are drastically changed. Rick Morrison, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury/Products Liability Section, handles tire litigation for our firm. If you have any questions or need more information on this subject, contact Rick at 800-898-2034 or by email at Rick.Morrison@beasleyallen.com.
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