The Very Serious Risks Presented by Defective Tires

When talking about a vehicle’s most important safety features the parts that many experts commonly identify are the tires. Tires directly affect and influence any vehicles’ braking capability, stability, handling, steering and traction as these are the ones that have direct contact with the road; thus, when tires are defective or fail, these can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle and possibly suffer a tragic accident, especially if the vehicle is running at highway speed.

To make sure that vehicles and aftermarket vehicle parts would never cause accidents or would be able to provide enough protection to drivers and passengers if ever an accident occurs, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the federal government, has issued the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and Regulations. These regulations on safety standards specify the minimum safety performance required on motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts; all manufacturers are called to conform and certify compliance with this regulation, which aims to protect the public “against unreasonable risk of crashes occurring as a result of the design, construction, or performance of motor vehicles,” as well as “against unreasonable risk of death or injury in the event crashes do occur.” (http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/FMVSS/)

Data from the National Transportation Safety Board indicate close to 11,000 tire-related accidents in the US every year; these accidents leave about 200 dead and 6,000 injured. Some of the identified causes of these accidents include:

  • Tire Defects – this may be due to poor manufacturing standards or poor engineering tire design.
  • Tread Separation – the result of the tire’s belts getting torn apart from one another. This leads to the tread getting detached from the tire while the vehicle is at high speed. Tread separation, which is actually due to manufacturing flaws, like insufficient tire bonding, increases the risk of catastrophic accidents;
  • Tire Blowout – usually due to a cut or a puncture in the tire’s sidewall which, in turn, is due to a faulty rim that either causes the bead to break or a cut into the sidewall. Tire blowout can also occur because of low or high air pressure in the tire or if the vehicle drives over a sharp object, like a nail.
  • Sidewall Zipper Failure – this tire failure is so named due to the zipper pattern that usually appears after tire damage occurs; it is characterized by the tire’s sidewall’s explosion which can occur while the tire is being inflated.
  • Bead Fracture – this is due to the high stress suffered by the bead that has gotten caught on the rim during tire mounting. Bead fracture can result to low-pressure explosions that can end up in very serious injuries, like head injuries, dismemberment or even death.

It is very important that manufacturers produce good tires and that drivers make sure that their vehicle’s tires are in good condition, especially before a long drive. While auto manufacturers advise car owners to replace their vehicle’s tires every six years, tire manufacturers lengthen the years to 10 (tires wear faster in southern states, though, because of the high temperatures in the region).

According to the website of Pohl & Berk, victims of accidents (due to tire defects) have the right to pursue legal actions against liable parties, as well as receive compensation from them for all the present and future damages they will suffer due to whatever injury they have sustained.

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