ANNAPOLIS – Marylanders have reported 14 cases of Bridgestone/Firestone tire failure, a figure that accounts for less than 1 percent of the more than 1,400 incidences of tire failure collected by the agency nationwide, according to a review of a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
The tire failures have not caused any fatalities in Maryland and only one crash, which left two injured, the Capital News Service review shows.
In terms of sheer numbers, Maryland pales in comparison to some southern and western states where the majority of incidents have been reported.
“Most are coming from Florida, Texas and California,” said Rae Tyson, a spokesman for NHTSA. Combined, those three states account for more than half of the incidents reported to the NHTSA.
As of Aug. 31, NHTSA had received 1,450 complaints of tire failure, most on the three models of tires voluntarily recalled by Bridgestone/Firestone. Some complaints concerned the more than 20 models and sizes of Bridgestone/Firestone tires that the agency urged consumers to replace, but that the company did not include in its recall. On Aug. 9, the company recalled P235/75R15 Firestone ATX and ATX II tires, and P235/75R15 Wilderness AT tires produced at its Decatur, Ill., plant.
On Sept. 1, NHTSA also urged consumers to replace several sizes of Firestone ATX, Firehawk ATX, ATX 23 Degree, Widetrack Radial Baja, Wilderness AT (two different sizes than the originally recalled tires), and Wilderness HT brand tires. Bridgestone/Firestone has declined to include those tires in the recall.
From the 1,450 complaints received, NHTSA has linked more than 250 injuries and 88 deaths to the tire failures nationwide.
The Maryland reports also show:
– Most of the tires that failed in the state were the Wilderness model
installed on late-model, low-mileage Ford Explorers.
– One-third of the tire failures resulted in blowouts.
– Two-thirds of the tire failures showed signs of tire separation.
– No rollovers resulted from tire failure.
The one crash in the state occurred June 18, 2000, when the left rear Wilderness tire on a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer travelling 70 miles per hour blew out and the vehicle crashed into a tree, injuring two occupants. The data does not show the location of this accident or any of the reported tire failures.
In 1999, the State Highway Administration recorded 97,012 accidents in Maryland.
Though the 13 other failures reported in Maryland did not result in crashes, the database offers graphic detail of what did happen. On Aug. 1, 2000, the left rear Wilderness tire on a 1997 Ford Explorer travelling 65 miles per hour blew out, spinning the sport utility vehicle into oncoming traffic. And, in the only reported case involving the ATX II brand tire in Maryland, the front right tire on a 1993 Ford Explorer blew out, separating the entire sidewall from the rest of the tire.
The number of reported cases nationwide and in the state exploded just before the Aug. 9 recall. All 14 of the Maryland incidents were reported in August, starting a few days before the recall. Nationally, in the month since the recall, NHSTA has seen the number of complaints double from 750 to 1,450.
“We had 46 complaints in 10 years. This year it has just exploded, gone nuts,” Tyson said.
Tyson said he expects his agency will receive more complaints – from Maryland and the nation – before the database is updated again on Sept. 18.