Our firm is investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who suffered injuries or death due to defective, aged, or recalled tires.
Senator Ed Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts), a member of the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation has been questioning the Department of Transportation (DOT), the federal agency that oversees tire safety. Senator Markey cited an ABC News investigation that found that defective tires continue to be sold.
The investigation also revealed that the federal government does not offer a method in which consumers and service centers may search tire history by Tire Identification Number (TIN). The Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates a TIN be printed on every tire’s sidewall.
Senator Markey submitted a question for the record to DOT Secretary, Anthony Foxx, following his appearance before lawmakers in early May 2014, concerning if there are plans to put a database in place that is searchable by a tire’s TIN. This is not the first time this issue has come up and consumer advocates have been urging the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is responsible to oversee tire safety, to provide a TIN-searchable database so that bad tires may be better identifiable.
“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,” wrote Senator Markey. The senator has asked if the DOT would create such a TIN-searchable database and asked, “if not, why not?,” according to the ABC News report.
The TIN is made up of 11-12 alphanumeric characters and is utilized by tire makers to determine when and where a tire was made. This is also meant to help determine when a tire is part of a recall. To determine the age of a tire, look on the tire’s side, near the inner ring. There, according to ABC News, will be a string of characters that begins with “DOT.” The last four numbers in this string relate to the tire’s age: The first two numbers represent the week the tire was made and the last two represent the year. A tire with the numbers “0401” would have been manufactured in the fourth week of the year—the end of January—in the year 2001.
Answering questions presented by ABC News concerning implementing a TIN search, an NHTSA spokesperson indicated that the agency allows for other methods by which recall information may be obtained, including signing up for email alerts or following the NHTSA on social media.
Even the tire industry’s most significant trade group, the Rubber Manufacturer’s Association (RMA), supports using technology, including a TIN search to enhance the tire recall system. “It might be a very effective way to track a large database of recalls that span all manufacturers by potentially a government website,” RMA spokesman Dan Zielinski told ABC News. “Perhaps it should be something that should be discussed. We’d be happy to be part of that discussion.”
American Tire Companies in Eight States Oppose Age-Related Tire Inspections
American tire companies assisted in the defeat of proposed laws in eight states that would mandate inspection of tires for age.
Safety advocates, some auto makers, and even Michelin, agree that aging increases risks for dangerous tire failures and have urged motorists to replace older tires due to the potential for the rubber degradation, which may lead to safety issues in which a tire loses its tread, according to ABC News.
Meanwhile, the RMA hired lobbyists to defeat laws proposing mandatory inspection of tire age. “We oppose legislation that have some sort of age limit on tires,” said Dan Zielinski, executive director of the trade group. In fact, the RMA paid lobbyists $36,000 to defeat proposed legislation in Massachusetts that would have included the age of tires on regular vehicle inspections, according to WCVB, an ABC Boston affiliate.
Tire Tread Separation Leads to Deadly Crashes
On February 21, the NTSB was advised of a deadly crash near Lake City, Florida in which a tire tread separation caused a 15-passsenger van to overturn, ejecting passengers. Just one week prior, Tire Review was also investigating a tire-related accident that took place in Centerville, Louisiana. In that crash, an SUV also underwent a tire tread separation and then lost control over the road’s median and into the path of a school bus that was carrying a high school baseball team. The two crashes led to six deaths and 38 injuries.
The investigation is reviewing proper tire maintenance processes, the tire recall process, tire degradation due to age, vehicle handling, and driver response. Tire failure may occur due to over-or under-inflation, overload, insufficient tread, uneven wear, punctures, defects, and degradation due to age and environment, according to Tire Review.
A two-year-old BF Goodrich Commercial T/A A/S tire was involved in the Florida crash. That tire was part of a 794,000-tire recall in July 2012. The safety notice indicated that “It is possible that any one of the tires being recalled may experience tread loss and rapid air loss resulting from tread belt separation. This condition may increase the risk of vehicle crash.” Tire Review reported that no evidence has been discovered indicating that the owner of the van ever received a recall notice.
Legal Help for Those Injured Due To Faulty, Aged Tires
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or death due to faulty, recalled, or aged tires, you may be eligible for compensation. To find out more about your legal rights, please fill out our online form to the right or call us today at 1(800) YOUR LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).