demanded more focus on tire safety assurances after the
highly publicized massive Bridgestone and Firestone recall
of 6.5 million tires. The
tire recall resulted after the tires experienced tread separations
and caused SUV rollovers to occur, linked to the death of
271 people in U.S. traffic deaths and thousands of accidents.
The auto industry tried to capitalize on the safety issues
by spending 70% more money than over the past seven years
on the development, marketing, and sales of car safety.
The SUV rollover issue received a lot of public attention
as well, and now rollover protection is being improved in
cars and SUVs.
If a tread separation
does occur, it reduces the ability of a driver to control
the vehicle. According to a recent report released last October
by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration,
the likelihood of a crash with death and injuries was determined
to be much greater if in an SUV. Congressional leaders promised
a greater governmental role in the tire industry following
the Bridgestone and Firestone tire recall in order to tighten
reporting requirements on companies such as Ford or Firestone/Bridgestone.
As a result of Congress' promise, the TREAD Act became law
in the fall of 2000. The TREAD Act stands for Transportation
Reporting Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation that
by law now:
- Require automobile companies to report information about
potential safety defects to NHTSA's new Early Warning database
- Improve tire-labeling requirements
- Develop a rollover test for its consumer information crash-testing
program, the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)
- Require a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to warn
motorists of low tire inflation pressure
- Update requirements for child safety restraints
reason Continental's tire defect was found is highly attributed
to the TREAD Act and to the increased focus on safety, especially
with tread separation
because of Bridgestone and Firestone . The vice president of original
equipment for Continental said their examination claims for
evidence of defects effort has redoubled since the Firestone
recall. The TREAD Act requires automakers to disclose information
that relates to possible defects and allows the NHTSA to determine
if they should issue a recall independently of the manufacturer.
In the past automakers would only need to inform the NHTSA
of safety defects when an internal investigation had concluded
a recall was necessary, but because a recall can be extremely
costly, the automaker did not always choose to report to the
NHTSA of the defects.
Continental did not say how many tread
separations had occurred after their investigation but
estimated the tire recall would cost them an estimated $19
million. In addition, Ford said they had incorrectly labeled
the tire pressure for the rear wheels on 81,774 two-wheel
drive Expedition and Navigator SUVs from the 2000 model year,
some of them included in the Continental
tire recall. Ford had recommended pressure for the rear
tires at 30 psi, but should have pressure of 33 psi. Low tire
pressure contributes to tire blowouts that can cause drivers
to lose control of their vehicle or an SUV rollover.
If you experienced a tread
separation because of a Continental recalled tire, please
contact us to learn more about your rights.