Unsafe tires remain one of the deadliest yet fixable automotive safety components on vehicles today. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 700 people die each year in tire-related fatalities, which far exceeds all other headline-making automotive defects combined.
- Tire-related fatalities: 700 (annually)
- Takata airbag fatalities: 22 (all time) (Source: CBS News)
- GM ignition fatalities: 124 (all time) ( Source: Car and Driver)
- Toyota sudden acceleration fatalities: 21 (all time) (Source: CBS News)
There are many factors that may contribute to tire-related injuries and deaths including aged, worn and recalled tires. In 2015, following a year-long investigation of tire-related accidents and deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report that determined most of these deaths and accidents were, in fact, preventable. Today, based on the NHTSA recalled tire recovery reports provided by tire manufacturers, an estimated 2 million recalled tires remain yet unrecovered and likely in service.
The USTMA is backing state-sponsored legislation to prohibit the sale of unsafe used tires. Selling a recalled tire is already against the law, so the USTMA focus is on other unsafe tire conditions. The primary goal of this legislation is two-fold: one is to remove unsafe tires from American roadways; and the other is to avert the introduction of greater problems into the future.
Based on the sheer number of unrecovered recalled tires in service today, the odds are fairly certain that as a tire dealer you will encounter a recalled tire at some point in your service bay. It is highly likely that your customer is unaware of this situation and may leave with the condition unresolved. Under no circumstances, though, should this be the case. Are the technicians even aware to watch for recalled tires? Selling or servicing a recalled tire is risky at the very least.
A quick D.O.T. check on service tires could quickly eliminate these recalled tires from remaining in service. Knowing if a tire is recalled by a T.I.N. check seems like a small effort with possible life-saving rewards. In addition, the tire age may also be quickly noted and communicated to the customer. The tire manufacturers tire service life recommendation on replacement should also be shared with the customer. This could result in new tire sales and gaining the confidence of your customer that their safety matters to you. Today’s “standard of care” for tire retailers could include taking these simple safety check steps already.
It is apparent that tire dealers care about their customers; they care about their business, their employees and their place in the community. By simply registering a tire D.O.T. with the manufacturer, the dealer sets into motion the key data point that will make a difference in tire safety and saving lives for years to come.
Tire registration is the law today; however, enforcement is not yet robust and likely will remain so with the NHTSA facing much bigger issues, such as autonomous vehicle oversight and advancing vehicle technologies. And the agency is still without a permanent leader as the nominee, Heidi King, awaiting Senate approval.
However, registering tires should not have to be legislated; common sense and the overwhelming statistics are reason enough to comply. It saves lives when aged and recalled tires are removed from service.
Innovative software technology has minimized the effort it takes to electronically capture service tire data, check recalls and age and transmit tire registration data directly to the manufacturer. As an industry, we have the capability to change the outcome, and together, improve a broken system one registration at a time.
Joe Donehue is founder and president of Tiremetrix, and a contributor to the Tire Review’s “State of the Industry” issue.