California May Pave the Way for Truth in Tires

Tragic car accident could spark change

Ramon Moreno's car accident occurred nearly three years ago, but the pain is still fresh in his mind.

"It had a pretty loud explosion to it," he recalled today at the Capitol as he fought back tears  Moreno is pushing for more public disclosure about tires, like the one that blew out on his vehicle on May 24, 2006, sparking a rollover accident that killed his little brother William, a passenger in the back seat.

"It was a spare tire," Moreno said before adding, "We came to find out the tire was actually a 12 year old tire."

Aging tires are a growing problem according to Sean Kane, a safety advocate from Safety Research & Strategies.

"Tires that appear to be new are catastophically failing and many times the tires are put on the vehicles by the dealers themselves, " Kane stated today at the Capitol.

A tire's manufacturing date is actually imprinted on the sidewalls, but it's nearly impossible for consumers to decipher the code.

"Public safety is our number one issue in this bill," said Assemblyman Mike Davis, a Democrat from Los Angeles. "That is our goal," he explained in authoring AB496, which would make California the first state in the nation requiring retailers to reveal the actual age of the tires, in writing.

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But Davis's Truth in Tires bill was taken off today's Assembly agenda. The expected vote in the Assembly's Business and Professions Committee was pushed back until next week, giving supporters more time to address business concerns about the bill.  Assemblyman Roger Niello's family runs a successful auto business. The Fair Oaks Republican said the bill may really benefit trial lawyers.

"One provision of it says that if there's a lawsuit, the plaintiff would be able to get reimbursement of their legal fees," Niello explained. "But the defendant doesn't have that available to them. So it seems kind of slanted," Niello declared.

But for Ramon Moreno, it's all about honoring his family.

"At the time, my brother was ten years old when he passed away," Moreno said.

The Truth in Tires bill is now scheduled for a hearing next Tuesday, April 21 before the same Assembly committee.

The best way to determine the age of your tires is to check the last four numbers of the tire's sidewall, after the initials DOT (Department of Transportation). The first two numbers represent the week the tires were made, while the last two show the year. So a tire stamped 2905 for example, would indicate the product was made in the 29th week of 2005.

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