In February, a church van veered off Interstate 75 near Gainesville, killing two youth pastors. The culprit: a faulty tire. Now investigators are saying that drivers across the country may be using faulty tires and not even now it.
The tire involved in that accident had been recalled a year ago, just months after it was first purchased, but no one involved in the church knew that. That’s not because of negligence on the church’s part, but because for most consumers it’s almost impossible to find out when a tire is recalled.
Following the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation to see why a defective, recalled tire was still on the road. What they found was startling: only 1 in 5 recalled tires actually gets returned to the manufacturer. The rest remain on cars or sit in stores waiting to be purchased.
Have My Tires Been Recalled?
Why aren’t the tires being returned? There are several possible reasons. For one thing, unlike recalls of cars themselves, tire recalls aren’t widely reported. That means fewer consumers hear about them through pure happenstance.
Another reason is that it’s hard to look up whether a tire is recalled or not. At SaferCar.gov the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does offer a way to find out, but you can’t just plug in the tire’s TIN number (printed on the sidewall) and get an answer. Instead you have to enter the manufacturer and tire type and then you’ll get a list of all government warnings related to that tire. By reading each and every warning, you might eventually find a list of TINs and can check to see if yours is on it.
Obviously, not many drivers take the time to do this (and they might easily miss a recall warning if they did). But defective tires are not a minor issue—the NTSB says they cause 400 to 500 deaths per year.
In the case of the church van, the tire separated from the wheel and wrapped around the axel, causing a total loss of control.
So what can you do? For starters, even though it’s a hassle, take the time to look up your tire on the NHTSA website. If your tire has been recalled you can have it replaced with a safe one for free.
Secondly, if you’ve been involved in an accident where a tire was damaged, check to see if that tire may have been on a recall list. If so, there’s a chance it failed and the accident wasn’t your fault.
If you think your accident may have been caused by a recalled tire, call Steinger, Greene & Feiner to learn how you can receive compensation for your injuries.
HOW TO CHECK THE AGE OF YOUR TIRES: