How old are your tires? Many do not readily know the answer to that question. Even a set of tires bought to replace aging threadbare tires could be older than assumed.
A recent news investigation found that the key to uncovering tire age is looking for a Department of Transportation four-digit code stamped on every tire that lists the week and year of manufacture. For example, a tire with the code 1503 was made the 15th week of 2003 and is about 10 years old.
Tires that are older than 6 years can be dangerous according to safety experts. Driving on old tires can greatly increase the odds of serious car accident, such as a rollover. Across the country, rollover accidents account for approximately a quarter of traffic-related deaths each year even though they only make up about one percent of the total crashes that occur.
TIRE AGE BLAMED IN A RECENT ACCIDENT
The family of a California teenager had no idea the importance tire age. They gave their son a classic Ford Mustang to commute between work and classes. Their son bought what he thought were new tires for the car. Several weeks later, he died in a car accident blamed on those same tires.
While the tires had not been used, they were 12 years old when he purchased them. The time that a tire sits in storage can affect the durability. An old tire can suffer tread separation, which might cause a rollover or catastrophic accident when the driver loses control of the vehicle.
PREVALENCE OF THE PROBLEM
Safety Research and Strategies, Inc., a consumer safety group specializing in motor vehicle issues, researches tire failures. The founder and president, Sean Kane, compared aging rubber bands to aging tires. A rubber band will start to crack and often the older rubber band does not stretch very far before it breaks. The same is true for tires. Deterioration occurs in the rubber of tires that are over six years old.
Last year, statistics compiled by the group attributed 252 accidents, 300 injuries and 23 fatalities to the failure of old tires.
A vehicle owner’s manual will often include a recommendation on when to change tires. General Motors recently updated it recommendation on tire age to 6 years in its 2013 owner’s manual. Many foreign models have had a similar warning for some time.
WHEN TO CONTACT AN ATTORNEY
A rollover accident caused by aging tires often involves great force, which can crush the roof in. Even drivers and passengers belted into their seats can suffer severe injury. Injuries from these crashes may include traumatic brain injury, paralysis or the loss of a limb.
If an aging tire is to blame for an accident there could be recourse against the company that sold the tire. In a case where another driver caused an accident after a tire blowout, that driver might have been negligent in failing to replace his or her aging tires. An experienced Missouri personal injury attorney can discuss the individual facts of your case and discuss possible remedies that may be available.