On this episode of ABC’s Nightline Investigates, reporter Brian Ross looks at the serious issue of defective tires, and the ineffective system currently in place for issuing tire recalls. The report includes an interview with Alabama businesswoman Carolyn Thorne, who was paralyzed when her vehicle crashed and rolled over after a defective tire detreaded while she was driving. Beasley Allen attorney LaBarron Boone represented Ms. Thorne in her case against WalMart, which installed a recalled tire on her vehicle. While investigating a similar case, Boone discovered recall notices are often sent by third-class mail in order to save money, making delivery ineffective and not guaranteed. “Economics drives safety sometimes. That’s unfortunate,” Boone told ABC. There is currently no effective system for either tire retailers or the public to confirm that a tire is under recall. Sean Kane, founder and president of Safety Research & Strategies, calls the problem “the invisible hazard.” Federal investigators confirm several hundred people are killed each year in accidents where tires are a factor. Donald Karol, Director of the National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) Office of Highway Safety has announced a first-of-its-kind federal investigation of tire safety and the effectiveness of current recall systems. After conducting its own research, ABC found that since the beginning of 2004, there have been more than 5 million tires recalled for safety defects. Of that number 80 percent of recalled tires are never returned to the manufacturers and may still be in the stream of commerce or currently in use on vehicles.
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