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Advocacy

Safety Research & Strategies is an active advocate for motor vehicle safety. Our efforts to improve public safety include special investigations, media campaigns, public speaking engagements and submissions to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We specialize in issues that are important, but may receive less recognition from other organizations.

President and founder Sean Kane has been personally responsible for numerous recalls, including an historic vehicle buy-back program, involving millions of tires and vehicles.

SRS has also been involved in:

  • Changing the date-of-manufacture code on tires to make them easy for consumers to understand and advocating for consumer information on the hazards of tire age degradation.
  • The effort to preserve NHTSA’s records – an important resource that provides historical context to complex safety issues.
  • Identifying and advocating for change to the failed tire recall system and RFID in tires.
  • Closing regulatory loopholes that allow manufacturers to put in fewer seatbelts than their seats can accommodate, leaving some middle position rear occupants without any restraint system.
  • Advocating for public access to critical Early Warning Reporting Data.
  • Advocating for improving NHTSA’s Roof Strength rule.
  • Identifying the continuing hazards associated with recalled Firestone ATX and Wilderness and the recall renotification campaign in 2006.

For detailed summaries and links to some of SRS’ advocacy work, click below:

Premature cracking and leaks in Chinese-made tire valve stems, the cause of at least one fatal crash and many other tire failures, led Safety Research & Strategies and Orlando attorney Richard Newsome to alert the public to the problem in June 2008.  Press Release

Defective valve stems from China are also showing up on 2007, and potentially 2008 model year Ford Motor Company vehicles.  Safety Research & Strategies requests NHTSA investigate.
 

One of SRS’s recent and visible campaigns has been devoted the examination of tire age degradation-a frequently invisible problem-and linking the problem to real-world crashes.  Mr. Kane and the SRS staff have been advocating for regulations that include non-coded date of manufacture and tire sell-by dates, and consumer information on this hazard.  Their work has been covered extensively in the media, presented at tire industry meetings and to government regulators. Click here fore more information about SRS’ advocacy work on tire aging.

 
November 1, 2007
 
The current tire recall system designed to alert and capture defective models is ineffective and outmoded.  Despite many technological advances, consumers trying to identify a defective tire still rely on a 38-year-old recall system that rarely averages more than a 20 percent return rate, leaving millions of potentially deadly tires on consumers’ vehicles.
 
Other important tire safety issues ranging from aging to counterfeiting can benefit from an improved identification system.  Radio Frequency Identification tags offers a solution.
In the fall of 2006 SRS learned that NHTSA Technical Information Services (TIS) Reading Room was planning to be shut down when the agency moved to a new building in 2007. The TIS library is a resource-often the only resource-for access to historical documents related to the agency’s regulatory, investigative, and policy history.  SRS, with support from other research, advocacy, and library organizations pressed for preservation of this important resource and in a March 16 2007 letter received word from Chief Information Officer Margaret O’Brien that the library will stay in operation. However, in a April 2, 2006 meeting with the CIO, the agency offered no guarantee that the Reading Room would stay open and that important resources and documents would be preserved.
 
For more details see below:
 
 
March 16, 2007:  NHTSA promises to preserve library after Safety Research & Strategies spearheads efforts to prevent shutdown.  NHTSA March 16, 2007 letter to SRS
 
 
 
 
 
Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. commissioned Quality Control Systems Corp. to examine the data on the continuing growth in Ford Explorer tire-related fatal crashes long after the well-known Firestone tire recalls. This study would examine tire-related death and injury claims involving Ford Explorers submitted by Ford Motor Company to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  These data were required by the TREAD Act passed in October 2000 in response to Ford Explorer-Firestone tire-related rollover deaths.  While NHTSA has held that these claims data are not confidential, the agency has refused to release the information under FOIA.  As a result, QCS has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal District Court to obtain the data in order to begin its work for Safety Research & Strategies.  Click here for more information on the study.
In May 2006, SRS presented original research to NHTSA showing that the efforts by Ford and Firestone to recall Wilderness AT and ATX tires in 2000 and 2001 had failed to gather many of the spares. These tires were original equipment on the Ford Explorer, and included a full size spare that was stored under the vehicle. These tires were implicated in a spate of Ford Explorer rollover crashes causing more that 200 deaths hundreds of serious injuries.  SRS was able to show that many of the spares were not replaced in those recall campaigns and were forgotten as the vehicles passed to new owners. Some of the tires, which had never been used, looked new and were put into service.  Motorists who used these tires suffered catastrophic tire failures as the tires were not only defective, but further degraded internally from age. At least five lost their lives as the recalled spares were unknowingly put into service.
 
In response to SRS’s information, Firestone announced in July 2006 it would initiate a recall campaign seeking spares that were missed during the original recalls.