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Senator Questions DOT about Tire Safety

May 28, 2014

A United States Senator is raising questions about tire safety after an ABC News investigation showed that recalled tires are still being sold to the public. According to ABC News, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has asked Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx if there are plans to create and implement a recalled tire database that would be searchable by a tire’s Tire Identification Number (TIN). The question was submitted on the record after Foxx appeared before lawmakers earlier this month.

Markey, who is a member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, cited an ABC investigation showing that the federal government has no way of allowing drivers to search for the history of a tire by its TIN. Without this, a number of drivers may be using tires that have been recalled due to dangerous defects. Markey stated in reference to this investigation that “there is no database that is searchable by TINs on NHTSA’s database and often no way for consumers, vendors or manufacturers to quickly and easily access and read the TINs on tires themselves. This has led to accidents, injuries and deaths as people drove in vehicles with recalled tires that later failed.” He questioned if the DOT would be willing to implement such a project and “if not, why not?”

A tire’s TIN code is made up of 11 or 12 numbers and letters. It shows when and where the tire was made. For manufacturers, the TIN is also useful in determining whether or not a tire is affected by a recall.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the DOT’s agency that supervises tire safety. For years, consumer advocates have asked NHTSA to provide this type of database as a fast way to determine if a tire has been recalled. When questioned by ABC News about the potential for a TIN searchable database, a NHTSA spokesperson stated that the agency provides other methods for recall notifications, such as email alerts and following the agency through Facebook and Twitter.

The Rubber Manufacturer’s Association, the major tire industry trade group, supports the idea of a TIN-searchable database. Dan Zielinkski, a spokesman for the group, told ABC “It might be a very effective way to track a large database of recalls that span all manufacturers by potentially a government website.”

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