WASHINGTONRepresentatives of the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and Tire Industry Association (TIA) will be panelists on the Passenger Vehicle Tire Safety Symposium being organized by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The NTSB said the full list of panelists for the Dec. 9-10 symposium will be issued the week before the event, but the RMA and TIA told Tire Business that Tracey Norberg, RMA senior vice president-regulatory affairs and general counsel, Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president of public affairs, and Kevin Rohl-wing, TIA senior vice president of training, will be panelists during the symposium.
Earl Weener, a NTSB board member, will chair the symposium, which is slated to run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days at the NTSB Conference Center in Washington, D.C.
The symposium will discuss six tire-related topics:
c Tire disablement and vehicle dynamics;
c Identifying and analyzing tire disablement-related crashes;
c Tire registration and recall;
c Tire aging and service life;
c Advances in tire technology; and
c Tire maintenance and consumer awareness.
The NTSB said the symposium is an effort to gather information from industry and government experts on exactly what causes tires to fail.
Mr. Rohlwing said he would participate in the panels on tire registration/recall and tire maintenance/consumer awareness.
RMA and TIA spokesmen said they believe the NTSB is holding this symposium because of the two fatal highway accidents the agency is investigating that allegedly involve aged or defective tires.
The NTSB has been investigating at least two tire-related crashes since last February. One crash occurred on Feb. 21, 2014, on Interstate 75 near Lake City, Fla., when a Ford 15-passenger van rolled over, killing two adults and injuring several children.
The van, according to the NTSB, was equipped with a BF Goodrich Commercial T/A AS tire that had been part of a February 2012 recall. The tire suffered a tread separation that led to the rollover, the agency said.
Another crash occurred Feb. 15, 2014, on U.S. Highway 90 near Centerville, La., according to the NTSB. A 2004 Kia Sorento suffered a failure of a 10-year-old Michelin Cross Terrain tire, and the driver lost control, swerving into the path of a school bus. Four of the Kia's five occupants died; the fifth Kia passenger and 30 of the 34 people aboard the school bus were injured.
The symposium could revive the ongoing debate on whether tire aging is inherently dangerous.
We fully expect the NTSB to announce in December that people should replace all tires over six years of age, regardless of the depth of the tread on the tire, said Rob Ammons, a Houston personal injury attorney, in a press release issued Nov. 13.
It is important for tire industry experts to make their voices heard at the symposium, according to Mr. Rohlwing.
Trial lawyers are circling the pool and sensing an opportunity, he said. So we have to be there to tell our side of the story.
The symposium will be free and open to the public, with no preregistration, the NTSB said. It will offer a webcast of the symposium, which will be archived for three months, and issue a transcript.
The agency said it may use information gathered from the symposium to develop safety recommendations that, if implemented, could reduce the incidence of tire disablement-related crashes.
Based on what NTSB officials told him, Mr. Zielinski said he believed a report emanating from the symposium findings will probably be available in the latter part of 2015.
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