Local Attorney Raises Awareness Of Little-Known Tire Age Risk During National Tire Safety Week
Orlando, FL – Think getting your Grandma’s car for cheap is a good deal? When it comes to the tires, think again. As part of the Rubber Manufacturing Association’s National Tire Safety Week, April 20-26, an Orlando product safety law firm wants consumers to be aware of the hidden danger of tire degradation due to age.
Old tires have been the subject of growing concern by auto safety advocates. Physical and chemical properties of tires change over time, regardless of use. Henry Didier, founding partner of the Didier Law Firm, P.A., cites research that shows tire performance can start to degrade after six years – even if tires haven’t been used.
“The average consumer is well aware of how to inspect tire tread depth, but has no idea that, regardless of tread, old tires can become brittle and separate on the road,” Didier said. “The industry is well aware of the issue and the dangers but is reluctant to put uniform guidelines in place.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency, known as NHTSA, has conducted tests on new tires to determine a baseline for their durability and may pursue a test this year to simulate aging. The agency will begin requiring manufacturers to print the manufacture date on tires, beginning in September 2009. The 2003 NHTSA study determined that the average tread life of a tire is 44,700 miles.
According to SRS, Inc. a Massachusetts-based auto-safety research firm, 108 accidents and 85 deaths are linked to tread separation of tires more than six years old. The group cites in a recent petition a July 2003 crash involving a 1997 Toyota 4Runner in San Bernardino, California. Three weeks after a dealer rotated an original spare tire onto the right rear wheel, the tread separated at highway speed, fatally injuring a young mother in a rollover accident.
Tire age can be determined through decoding of the required DOT number molded into the side of a tire; however, the DOT date coding is confusing and cryptic to consumers.
The demand for used tires exasperates the issue further. Ebay® lists more than 1,000 used tires on its site, and tire shops across the nation sell used tires at discount prices. Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, one of the largest tire manufacturers, made the corporate decision in 2007 to stop selling used tires at its 2,200 company-owned stores. Yet still, there is no uniform industry guideline on the issue. According to SRS, Inc., Ford Motor Co., DaimlerChrysler AG, Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG have backed guidelines that tires should only be in service six years, regardless of tread depth.
The Didier Law Firm, P.A. specializes in automotive defect cases including unsafe airbags, tire failures, seatback and seatbelt failures, and rollover stability cases. The firm also handles a multitude of cases relating to defective designs of industrial products and heavy equipment. Often product defects cause catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, and the firm is committed to seeking justice for injured people and their families.