The Washington Traffic Safety Commission today completed an analysis of all fatal crashes involving Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles in Washington State for the years 1998, 1999 and 2000. The records of twenty cases were analyzed. Research analysts found no evidence of tire failure as a factor in the collisions.

"We wanted to see how concerned people should be here, driving under our conditions. We are relieved by what we found, but owners of the recalled tires should be sure to get them replaced," said John Moffat, Commission director.

While tires were not a factor, the twenty cases showed common elements that contribute to traffic deaths -- drinking and driving, failure to wear seatbelts and driving too fast for conditions, particularly on slick roads.

"In my 18 years as a fatal accident investigator, I've never seen a crash where tire failure was the cause of death," said Chief Fred Walser of the City of Sultan Police Department. "The failure of a tire may lead to driving off the road or rolling over, but these are survivable events. However, if you are not wearing a seatbelt, you can be ejected and killed."

Walser is a 36-year veteran state trooper and police officer. "It breaks my heart to see a person lying dead at a crash when a safety belt would have saved their life," he said.

The Traffic Safety Commission recommends that owners of tires subject to the Firestone recall replace them as soon as practical. All occupants of cars, from children to the oldest adults, should wear their safety belts on every trip. State law requires it.