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Firestone Tire Hearings: Two House Subcommittees Look to Determine Whether Safety Standards Need to be UpdatedAired September 21, 2000 - 1:18 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: More hearing today into the Firestone tire recall in the Congress. Among other things, two House subcommittees are trying to determine whether tire safety standards need to be updated. Under one proposal, manufacturers would have to report to the U.S. government on product defects discovered in countries overseas.
CNN's Carl Rochelle is watching what's going on up in Washington, and joins us now with the latest on the tire story -- Carl.
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, the hearing has been going on since early morning. Rodney Slater, the secretary of transportation, has just taken the witness chair. He is going to be talking about what the administration would like to have, in terms of additional money and additional power to conduct its moving forward on tire testing and tire safety.
This morning, the focus was on Ford and Firestone. Chairman Billy Tauzin of the subcommittee that is holding this hearing, asking Ford why it didn't test the Ford Explorer with 26 pound pressure in the tires on the vehicle?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL TAUZIN (R), LOUISIANA: Here is the information we have. That Ford ran a single test in 1989 before putting these vehicles, with these tires on them, into production and sale at 26 pound per square inch at high speed, but on this F-150 truck, this mule, this slave truck, not a Ford Explorer.
Again, in 1994, Ford ran some tests, again, using an F-150. We have the records of those test.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
TAUZIN: Then, in '95, you ran some tests, but you don't have those records and can't yet produce them for us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we're still looking for them.
TAUZIN: And you are still looking.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ROCHELLE: Now, Ford maintained that the test on this test vehicle were as good or better than if they had been run on the Explorer vehicle itself. Chairman Tauzin said that wasn't good enough for him.
There was a but of finger-pointing. In the past, Ford has sort of pointed at Firestone and said: Firestone was slow in getting them the reports, and the information involved in this tire recall. Well, today, Firestone did a bit of fingerpointing on its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN LAMPE, EXECUTIVE V.P., BRIDGESTONE/FIRESTONE: Let there be no misunderstanding, we take full responsibility when there's a problem with our tires. We firmly believe, however, that the tires is only part of the overall safety problem shown by these accidents.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we believe all the relevant safety issues must be addressed. If we removed every one of our tires from these vehicles, rollovers and serious accidents will still continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHELLE: The point being that Ford should have shared some responsibility in determining that the mix went together right. But the committee also take out after Firestone saying that in 1996 they conducted tests that showed that a large percentage of tires coming from one particular factory, those that were tested, were failing. And the committee wanted to know why they didn't recall the tires at the time.
Firestone said there were blowout on the side walls, not the tread removal, as it has happened in the recent problems with the Firestone tires. And Chairman Tauzin said that they should have recalled them anyway. So that hearing is going on.
One other point, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, well, the committee came down on them, wanted to know why they were still using a 30-year-old standard for testing the tires and why they didn't update it. NHTSA saying that is something they planned to do this fall -- Lou.
WATERS: Carl Rochelle from Washington.
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