Federal officials recently announced that the system in place to recall to defective automobile tires in the United States is broken. This announcement came after an investigation into defective tires that began last year.
Last May, the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation into tire recalls. The investigation was triggered, in part, by a fatal accident in Florida involving a church van. The church van was equipped with a defective tire that had been recalled a year earlier. Neither mechanics nor church officials were aware of the recall. An accident occurred and two adult church leaders were killed. Eight others were injured, most of them teenagers.
The National Transportation Safety Board says that 33,000 accidents a year occur in the U.S. because of defective tires. It estimates that there are 400 to 500 deaths per year from crashes involving tire-initiated events. The tires may have been punctured, not properly inflated, or had pre-existing problems. Experts in the tire industry say that only 200 fatalities a year are caused by defective tires.
A lack of consumer awareness is probably the biggest reason that drivers continue to drive with defective tires. Most drivers are unaware that they should register their tires with the tire manufacturer in order to learn about recalls. However, government officials say that the blame shouldn’t be placed solely on consumers. The National Transportation Safety Board says that both their department and tire manufacturers can make it easier for consumers to know if their tires have been recalled.
One official recommends that tire manufacturers use a tire identification system on their websites that identify each tire by number, and tell consumers if the tire has been recalled. Currently, each tire already has an identifying number printed on its side. It has also been recommended the manufacturers use new technology on the tires, such as embedded chips or codes that can be scanned, which will help repair shops quickly identify tires that need to be replaced.
Besides the dangers of defectively manufactured tires, there is also a danger that tires may simply wear out. Many drivers are unaware that their tires are no longer safe. According to experts, tires can begin to lose their tread and separate after six years or less. Three major automobile manufacturers in the U.S. recommend that tires over six years old be replaced, regardless of how much or how little use they have received. Currently, there is no law or industry standard in place to prevent the sale of old tires. Consumers can only discover the age of their tires if they can read a small code that is imprinted on the tire.
In some cases, if you have been involved in an accident caused by a tire, you may be able to hold a third party responsible. If the tire had a defect that made it unsafe, the tire manufacturer may be responsible. If the car was new when the accident occurred and was purchased with a defective tire, the automobile dealership or the automobile manufacturer may be liable. If your local tire shop sold you an old, defective tire, you may be able to hold that store liable for your damages.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by a defective tire, you may be able to recover your damages from a third party. Call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco defective products attorney, at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. She works with clients throughout the San Francisco Bay area to help them with their personal injury cases. Call today to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.