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Tire-related, Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths
through 2014

Fatal, tire-related crash.

In 2014, fatalities in crashes involving passenger vehicles with reported tire-related factors increased by 10.6 percent over the previous year, rising to a total of 596 deaths from 539 total deaths in 2013. This increase came as crash fatalities in all other crashes involving passenger vehicles increased by only 0.3 percent from 27,874 in 2013 to 27,963 in 2014.

Figure 1. Increasing Fatalities in Crashes Involving Light Passenger Vehicles
with Tire-related Issues, 2013 to 2014.

Increasing Tire-related Crash Deaths

The source of this summary of tire-related crash deaths is the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Unfortunately, NHTSA itself reports the yearly average count of deaths resulting from tire-related crashes as "almost 200 fatalities," based on a small sample of police-reported, towaway crashes of light duty passenger vehicles in NHTSA's National Automotive Sampling System - Crashworthiness Data System (NASS/CDS). This official "estimate" undercounts the number of deaths in tire-related crashes found in the FARS data by about two-thirds.

In addition to the problem of the large sample error due to the small number of cases studied in NASS/CDS, the sample-based estimate does not include fatalities of non-motorists, such as pedestrians, in tire-related crashes. Nor does the estimate count the deaths of every vehicle occupant who is killed in a multi-vehicle, tire-related crash.

Based on the FARS data since 1992, fatalities in crashes involving light passenger vehicles with tire-related issues have slowly decreased, but have still exceeded 500 per year in almost every year through 2014.

Figure 2. Fatalities in Crashes Involving Light Passenger Vehicles with Tire-related Issues,
1992 through 2014.

Time Series of Tire-related Crash Deaths

Since 1992, the percentage of light passenger vehicles with occupant fatalities that have tire-related issues shows a notable change in the FARS data beginning in 2009. From 1992 through 2008, 1.66 percent of passenger vehicles with occupant fatalities and known information (7,836 of 472,375) had recorded tire factors associated with the crash. This rate rose to 2.21 percent over the years 2009 through 2014 (2,622 of 118,698).

Figure 3. Percentage of Light Passenger Vehicles with Occupant Fatalities
That Have Tire-related Issues by Calendar Year, 1992-2014.

A Notable Increase in the Percentage of Tire-related Deaths for Occupants

Progress in reducing tire-related deaths in crashes involving passenger vehicles in the United States can't be measured until the full scope of this important problem is acknowledged by the federal agency chiefly responsible for motor vehicle safety. Yet NHTSA's tire safety rulemaking is guided by its sample-based estimate of the number of persons who die in tire-related crashes as "almost 200" yearly.

The actual count summarized from the FARS census of fatal motor vehicle crashes is three times higher than the NHTSA estimate. The total in 2014 was 596 fatalities in crashes involving light passenger vehicles with noted tire-related factors.


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This research was supported by The Safety Institute of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, a non-profit organization dedicated to injury prevention and product safety.

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