Road to danger? Check your tires before you head out this holiday

Road to danger? Check your tires before you head out this holiday

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Families all throughout northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri will hit the road in less than two weeks, as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

But some people are warning about tires, they say, are hazardous to drive on. They say the tires are old and could tear apart during extended use.

"In terms of informing consumers, it's terrible. It doesn't work. No one would know that that's a date code," said Sean Kane, Safety Research&Stratagies.

Tucked away on the side of every tire is a mix of numbers and letters that indicate when the tire was manufactured. Kane said many consumers don't know what the markings mean.

A rubber stamp on the tire explains the month and year the tire was made.

Even some of those who sell used tires don't seem to understand what they mean. A recent investigation at a tire shop showed the salesman didn't know the date on the tire showed that it was 11 years old.

In a Raycom News investigation, companies said tires are stamped with four digits in order to help the company track tires down in a recall.

But Kane, who consults with attorney's bringing accident claims against the tire industry, heads a national group that lobbied the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to switch to a "standard date".

Kane claims to have documented more than 300 crashes where people were hurt or killed from tires more than six years old. He claims the tires become brittle, crack and break apart like a rubber band.

NHTSA found 90 deaths and more than 3,200 injuries from 2005 to 2007 linked to aging tires.

"The data does not support expiration dates," said Dan Zielinski, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

Zielinski said tire maintenance matters more than how old a tire is.

"A tire that's underinflated, or a tire that's been worn out or bald, is three times more likely to be cited as a critical event in a tire related crash," said Zielinski.

Some major tire companies recommend customers change tires after ten years of life, regardless of wear. Most vehicle manufacturers go further than that with a six year recommendation.

The NTSB launched an investigation earlier this year after a deadly accident in Louisiana that killed four people and hurt 30 high school baseball players and coaches. Investigators said the tread on a 10 year old tire separated, causing the driver to spin out and slam into a school bus.

NTSB said more recent crash data shows newer tires are stronger and perform better, but the NTSB investigation into the Louisiana accident could change that when the results are released in 2015.

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