WASHINGTON (Aug. 3, 2000)—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has confirmed reports of 193 crashes and 21 deaths resulting from alleged failures of Firestone ATX, ATX II and Wilderness tires on Ford Explorers and other heavy-duty Ford vehicles.
A NHTSA spokeswoman said the figures reported in an Aug. 2 article in USA Today were correct, but denied the newspaper´s statement that the agency knew about a serious problem with the tires a decade ago.
"We received a report of a blowout and another of a tread separation 10 years ago," she said. "Over the next 10 years, we had maybe 15 complaints."
A news report on the tires broadcast by a Houston, Texas TV station caused complaints to multiply, spurring the investigation NHTSA began May 2, she said.