AKRON (Sept. 22, 2000)—Often, when something bad happens positive results can come from it.
We hope this will be the case with the Firestone tire recall.
Certainly, some method of detecting and warning of potential tire and automotive defects early on would be a positive step toward preventing death and injuries on the highway resulting from them.
Still, federal regulators should not be too quick to adopt new regulatory legislation in light of the current recall controversy, which has whipped the country and many government officials into a frenzy.
Officials need to determine the facts and understand the issues surrounding the recall before making any far-reaching decisions. They also should explore alternatives to dealing with product problems before simply enacting another layer of government regulation.
One idea worth considering is the formation of an independent bilateral commission, made up of tire industry and government representatives, that would monitor such data as warranty adjustments, insurance claims, litigation etc. to provide an early warning of potential product problems anywhere in the world.
Robert Simmons, publisher of Rubber & Plastics News and publications director of Tire Business, suggested this idea during the recent International Tire Exhibition and Conference in Akron.
He maintained that if the industry does not take quick and responsible action, someone else—meaning the government—will. That could result in regulations not in the best interest of consumers in the long run, he said.
Possibly, the nearly dormant Tire Industry Safety Council, which is part of the Rubber Manufacturers Association, could be restructured to serve as the tire industry´s representative on such a commission.
Whatever is decided, the tire industry and auto makers must always place consumer safety above all else.
The industry would do everyone a favor by establishing steps to police itself and report immediately any product anomalies that could affect motorists. If not, the government will do it for them.