Tire Failure: Are Tires More Deadly Now Than Ever Before (Part 1)?

It happens everyday on Florida highways: tire failure. Tire blowouts, tread and belt separation and improper repairs causes thousands of serious traffic accidents each year. Tire manufacturers have issued major recalls costing millions of dollars to avoid liability, and still the injuries mount. In fact a recent studies show that tire failures caused more deaths in recent years than ever before.

Deaths for tire failures rose to nearly 11% in 2014, according to a new study in tire fatalities by The Safety Institute (“TSI”). That’s a huge jump compared to the changes in previous years that were reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). Looking across the last 20-years of data from the NHTSA, it seems that tires were actually getting safer, a claim that the TSI study seems to contradict.

According to the NHTSA tires became safer in recent years. Comparing tire failure fatality data from 2007 to 2010 with data from 1995 to 2006, the NHTSA reported a 50% reduction in tire failure fatalities. So are tires in fact safer or more dangerous than in the past?

Disparity between the TIS and NHTSA can likely be due to the way each organization obtains their data and calculates tire failure deaths. TSI takes data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (“FARS”), a nationwide database maintained by the NHTSA, that reports all deaths related to tire failure (TSI includes pedestrian, passenger and other deaths in their final count). The NHTSA uses a system called the Crashworthiness Data System (“CDS”), which analyzes a random sample of 5,000 police reported tows from accident scenes to determine the overall number of tire related deaths nationwide.

It must be understood that the NHTSA conducts their annual study to analyze three key traffic safety points:

  1. Vehicle crashworthiness.
  2. Safety system performance.
  3. How injuries relate to the crash that caused them.

With these goals in mind the NHTSA studies only count a tire related death that occurs in the actual vehicle that experienced the tire failure.

So are tires more dangerous today than in the past? You will have to read Part 2 of our series to find out. Until then let us reassure you that if you or someone you love has experienced injury or death from a tire failure then call the firm of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. We have the resources and experience to go up against the biggest tire manufacturers and hold them accountable. Call today for a free consultation.