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Fed Tire Safety Rule Is “Slippery” Slope For Wisconsin Drivers

September 5, 2007

Madison, WI – Defective tires are now exempt from consumer lawsuits in Wisconsin because of language in a new federal tire safety rule. Consumer watchdogs say it's another case of corporate interests being put ahead of public health and safety.

Bill Schulz with the American Association for Justice says the rule change would protect tire manufacturers from lawsuits, even in cases of injury or death. He points to the massive Firestone tire recall in 2000, and the 200 deaths nationwide associated with defective tires, as evidence that the White House should put the brakes on the new rule.

"What we see here, in regulation, is a very cynical attempt to allow tire manufacturers to evade accountability in the courts when people are killed or injured by their unsafe products."

Schulz says tire safety rules are just one example of what he sees as federal actions that protect big businesses at the expense of consumers.

"This is a very stealthy campaign, but it's clearly a campaign against safety and against consumers."

Schulz says the language that protects tire manufacturers from lawsuits wasn't in the original proposal, and was added at the last minute, without a chance for public scrutiny. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defends the rule as a way to encourage tire companies to increase safety features on their own.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI