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Defective Tires Remain on the Road

Defective tires are dangerous. Everyone knows that underinflated or worn tires increase the likelihood of a crash. Tire problems cause 33,000 accidents and kill more than 500 motorists annually, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Tires are not something to be messed around with, as any high school driving instructor could tell you.

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), vehicles with tires more than 25% below proper air inflation are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than vehicles with proper air pressure. NHTSA further found that, immediately prior to the accident, five percent of vehicles included in the study had tire problems.

That’s underinflated tires. But what about defective tires that have been recalled? I was disturbed to read that safety recall processes only remove about one in five defective tires from the road, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. While 24% of recalled tires are removed from the road for other reasons, 56% remain in use. The board found the process for recalling tires is fundamentally broken, because most dealers are not required to register the tires they sell with the manufacturer. This makes it difficult for manufacturers to track down the owners of defective tires. NTSB accident investigators cited numerous fatal crashes involving recalled tires, including a van that flipped over in Florida in 2014, killing two passengers.

This is unacceptable, particular given all of the data automation processes available in 2015. If a tire is recalled, there should be a system can identify who is driving a vehicle equipped with defective tires, rather than waiting until there is a crash before making this discovery.

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