Say what you will about the detriments or benefits of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, but the latest tire recall is a good example of the law in action.
A provision of this federal legislation, which was enacted following the recall of millions of Firestone ATX and ATX II and Wilderness AT tires in 2000 and 2001, required the establishment of an early warning reporting system. The aim was to catch potential tire problems early on before they became catastrophic and to expedite the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA) response to product defects.
Bridgestone/Firestone's voluntary and prompt recall of about 300,000 Load Range D Firestone Steeltex light truck tires shows the positive impact of the new, tighter reporting regulations.
After reviewing early warning data submitted by BFS as well as information from other sources, NHTSA, on Feb. 13, contacted BFS with its concerns.
Meanwhile, the tire maker, through its own audits of performance data, arrived at the same conclusion, basing part of its decision on evidence that the tires were involved in nine accidents that had resulted in five fatalities and 20 injuries.
The result was that within two weeks of identifying concerns with the tires, BFS, in cooperation with NHTSA, decided to recall and replace them at an estimated cost of $30 million.
This action came about despite NHTSA's having received only 18 complaints about the tires over the last four years and BFS's not having identified any specific problems with them.
NHTSA and BFS deserve to be commended for their responsible and prompt handling of this latest tire issue. It appears the early warning reporting system is working as intended.