Unsafe Used Tires Put Lives at Risk

By Courtney Titus Brooks, Director, Government Relations

Safety is the number-one priority for the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and its members. With a dedication to safety through innovation, USTMA members unlock the value of a mobile society by producing advanced, high-quality products that are indispensable to the mobility of people and goods.

USTMA members account for nearly 82% of the more than 300 million light vehicle and truck tire shipments in the U.S. each year. Clearly, consumers value our members’ products and our members work hard to earn that trust every day.

Yet, some consumers seek the least expensive replacement tire option possible and venture into the used tire market. Unfortunately, what initially looks like a good deal ultimately can be a deadly decision due to an unregulated used tire market that includes unsafe products.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that worn-out tires are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than tires with sufficient tread depth. Federal crash statistics indicate that about 200 fatalities and 6,000 injuries are attributed to tire-related causes annually. Any used tire purchase is risky since the buyer can never know the tire’s previous history. A tire may have been driven for too long while under-inflated or may have suffered impact damage from a pothole or curb, for example. Tires experiencing such damage are at greater risk of failure.

Used tires with clearly visible unsafe conditions that are installed on a vehicle pose a significant safety risk to motorists. You wouldn’t think that such tires could be sold and installed on vehicles, but only a handful of states have laws to prevent this practice. That’s why our industry is working hard to enact legislation to prohibit the installation of worn out, damaged or improperly repaired used tires that increase the risk of dangerous and potentially life-threatening tire failure. The measure is not a blanket ban on all used tires – more than 30 million used tires enter the national marketplace every year and many will not exhibit the unsafe conditions contained in our proposal. Instead, the simple, practical guidelines outlined in the legislation will help retailers to identify the more egregious used tires and protect consumers.

This common-sense legislation can save lives. Adopting USTMA’s targeted, pro-consumer, pro-safety proposal would reduce risks associated with unsafe used tires and, to date, two states have done so: Colorado in 2014 and New Jersey in 2017. Meanwhile, the Ohio Senate passed a similar measure that is now before the Ohio House. We hope to secure passage of that bill this spring. USTMA is already reviewing possible states to introduce unsafe used tire legislation in next year.

Tires are a critical safety component that connects motorists and passengers to the road. When tires wear out after a few years and tens of thousands of miles, they can be expensive to replace. However, no cheap used tire deal is worth your life, the lives of your passengers or your fellow drivers. Businesses that install unsafe used tires endanger their customers and everyone else on the road. Prohibiting installation of tires that clearly exhibit unsafe conditions is a matter of public safety, and we will work with states to advance this important safety initiative.

Our mobile society depends on tires – from the safety of our families on the road to the industry’s significant contribution to our nation’s economy. Tires are the only part of a car that touch the road and that connection is critically important to keeping the American economy moving and the driving public safe. Working to implement reasonable consumer protections to keep unsafe tires off the road is part of our industry’s ongoing commitment to safe, sustainable mobility for the nation.


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Jun 27, 2022


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