Nationwide, roughly 500 people are killed and 19,000 injured each year in accidents related to defective tires. It is estimated that 33,000 tire-related traffic accidents happen each year across the country.
Although authorities do not record the specific reasons, it is known that many tires recalled are not fixed because the notice of recall never reached the drivers. Recalls are usually announced to vehicle owners with a communication such as a letter. However, because there is no specific requirement for independent dealers who sell tires to register their stock with the manufacturers, there is no reliable way to trace the owners of the tires. Independent dealers are responsible for more than 90% of the tires sold in the U.S.
Overall, authorities estimate that only 20% of recalled tires are removed from the road. More than 50% of recalled tires are still in use. (The remaining percentage, authorities estimate, are no longer in use due to damage or wear and tear.)
A vivid example of the damage a recalled tire can do was presented to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently, according local station WTHR. A large van was vibrating but the driver could find nothing wrong when he pulled off the road to investigate. However, a tire failed shortly afterward. In the resulting swerve, the 9-passenger vehicle went off the road and rolled over, causing two fatalities. Officials said the defect was not visible to the naked eye. However, the brand of tire had been recalled 18 months previously. The tire had not been registered and the driver was therefore unaware of the recall.