RMA, TIA Urge States to Adopt Vehicle Safety Inspections

Groups File Joint Comments to NHTSA Supporting State Safety Guideline

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 20, 2012 – All states should adopt a periodic motor vehicle safety inspection to help reduce crashes each year, according to comments filed by Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Tire industry Association, the two leading national trade associations for the tire industry.

RMA and TIA filed joint comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supporting the agency’s guideline to states that they should adopt vehicle safety inspections. The guidance is not a mandate but one of a number of recommendations provided to states by NHTSA.

In their comments, RMA President and CEO, Charles Cannon and TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield said, “RMA and TIA applaud NHTSA’s initiative and effort to encourage states to adopt effective safety programs. We strongly support NHTSA’s guideline that states should adopt periodic motor vehicle safety inspections. Adoption of this guideline in every state will help save lives, prevent injuries and reduce the economic damage caused by preventable motor vehicle crashes.”

The organizations both advocated that any state inspection program must include tires. “RMA and TIA strongly urge all states to adopt a periodic, preferably annual, motor vehicle safety inspection program. Such a program should have a tire inspection that, at a minimum, includes: Measure tread depth and fail vehicles that have any tire with a tread depth of 2/32nds inch or less on any part of the tire; check every tire for damage exposing the reinforcing plies of the tire, including cuts, cracks, bulges, punctures, scrapes or wear; and check and inflate all tires to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure.

RMA and TIA noted that few motorists check tires regularly and cited studies showing many motorists delay needed maintenance. “While an annual vehicle inspection that includes tires will not completely reverse such widespread neglect of tire maintenance, it can both reduce the incidents of tire failure and help educate more motorists about the importance of tire care,” Cannon and Littlefield wrote.

With fewer than 20 states having some form of vehicle inspection, RMA and TIA suggested that federal policymakers explore whether to create incentives or consequences to spur state action on this issue. “A mandatory, annual vehicle safety inspection could prevent vehicles with significant safety issues from being involved in a serious crash,” the groups wrote. “To ensure that states enact periodic inspection programs, the federal government should explore whether incentive grants can be made to states with programs or consider withholding federal highway funds from states without inspection programs to spur action.”

“We applaud NHTSA’s effort to encourage states to have vehicle inspection programs,” said Littlefield. “This is an issue in which there is unity among the leading tire industry organizations and we felt compelled to lend our collective voice to NHTSA’s effort.”

“Both RMA and TIA have strong records of supporting pro-safety efforts,” Cannon added. “We hope that states will take a fresh look at this issue and work with NHTSA to implement programs that can help reduce crashes on our nation’s roadways.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that make tires in the U.S.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is an international association representing all segments of the tire industry, including those that manufacture, repair, recycle, sell, service or use new or retreaded tires, and also those suppliers or individuals who furnish equipment, material or services to the industry.

House Committee Approves Measure That Threatens Manufacturers’ Proprietary Business Information

Increased Disclosure of Early Warning Information May Harm Tire Makers in U.S

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 28, 2010 - A House committee approved legislation this week that requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make public more information that is reported to the agency by automobile, tire and automotive parts manufacturers.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) voiced a number of concerns with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010, HR 5381. The group has voiced similar concerns with a companion measure in the Senate, S 3302.

“RMA strongly supports and our members fully comply with the current early warning reporting system to provide federal safety regulators with information to help enhance motorist safety,” said Charles Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “However, RMA and its members are very concerned that this bill may result in NHTSA disclosing critical business information that will cause competitive harm to manufacturers in the U.S.”

A 2000 federal law mandated NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting System. Automotive industry manufacturers are required to report substantial amounts of production and performance data and consumer claims to the agency to assist federal safety officials with identifying potential safety issues. Consumer claims regarding fatalities, injuries and property damage claims are currently made public on NHTSA’s web site.

When NHTSA created the Early Warning Reporting System, it also created categories of information that would be protected from public disclosure as confidential business information. For tire manufacturers, this included production data, warranty claims and common green tires, which are tires that have not been cured.

“NHTSA conducted a rigorous process using strict Freedom of Information Act principles to develop a federal regulation that balanced public disclose of some early warning information with the need to protect some critical business data it receives each quarter from manufacturers,” Cannon said.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act also includes a mandate requiring a brake override system in vehicles to help prevent the possibility of sudden unintended acceleration. Additionally, the measure gives NHTSA the authority to declare that a vehicle, tire or automotive part presents an “imminent hazard” to motorist safety. Such a declaration would allow the agency to impose a range of remedies to force manufacturers to address a potential safety issue.

The bill also boosts federal penalties on manufacturers for safety-related issues to a maximum of $200 million. The House version would allow individuals to sue the agency if they disagree with an agency determination in answering a petition to investigate a possible vehicle defect.

“Permitting lawsuits to overturn NHTSA’s thorough investigation of potential safety issues would force the agency to divert critical resources to redundant tasks and legal defenses to answer likely lawsuit challenges to defect petition decisions,” Cannon said.

The House bill is expected to go to the House floor in the coming weeks. A Senate committee is expected to consider its version of the bill in early June.

“We will continue to engage with legislators and work toward a reasonable solution that enhances motorist safety while addressing the risk to RMA members’ competitive business information posed by this bill,” Cannon said.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.

RMA Statement on Nomination of David L. Strickland For NHTSA Administrator

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.December 8, 2009 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association supports the nomination of David L. Strickland as the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
RMA has worked with Strickland in his role as counsel to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He was involved in the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act in 2000 and also worked with RMA to enact legislation to create a consumer information program for tire fuel efficiency in 2007.

“Dave Strickland will bring a unique set of qualifications to the position of NHTSA Administrator,” said Charles A. Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “Clearly, he is one of the most knowledgeable on Capitol Hill on tire safety issues.

“Dave has made an effort to understand the tire industry and we look forward to continuing to work with him in a new capacity. He is tough but fair and his experience working on tire and automotive industry public policy issues should allow him to hit the ground running at NHTSA. We wish him a speedy confirmation by the Senate.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.

Tire Makers Propose Tire Fuel Efficiency Rating System

Five Category System Would Maximize Tire Choices for ConsumersRMA Comments submitted to NHTSA

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.August 24, 2009 - Tire manufacturers are proposing a tire fuel efficiency rating system that is more likely to assist motorists to choose fuel efficient replacement tires than a system proposed by federal regulators.

In written comments to a proposed tire fuel efficiency consumer information regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Rubber Manufacturers Association said its members believe that to establish effective consumer information requirements regarding tire efficiency, the program must meet the following:

• Provide information at point of sale;
• Provide meaningful information that is easy to understand by consumers;
• Provide a wide range of tire efficiency choices across the rating scale to each consumer about replacement tire choices appropriate for the consumer’s existing vehicle;
• Be cost effective to minimize the cost effect of this information to consumers.

RMA supports a five category rating system that maximizes the tire efficiency choices across the rating scale for available to each consumer.

“Since consumers shopping for replacement tires are limited in their tire selections by requirements of their existing vehicle, it is important to design a rating system that maximizes the tire efficiency choices across the rating scale for each consumer. The appeal of a rating system will depend on whether a consumer has “good” choices appropriate for his vehicle across the rating scale,” RMA wrote.

In June, NHTSA proposed a tire fuel efficiency rating system that would be printed on a paper label on every replacement passenger tire sold in the U.S. The rating system would rank tire fuel efficiency on a 0-100 point scale. The proposed rule also would rate wet traction capability and tread wear. The regulation was required by energy legislation enacted by Congress in 2007. RMA advocated in favor of the provision to create a tire fuel efficiency consumer information program.

RMA said that NHTSA’s proposed rating approach would not provide consumers with useful information about fuel efficiency of replacement tires suitable for their vehicles. Under the NHTSA proposal, a typical consumer shopping for a replacement tire for a specific vehicle would have a choice only along approximately a 20 to 30 point spread on the 100 point scale.

“The proposed rating scale gives consumers an illusory view of the tire efficiency choices available to them for their vehicle and does not assist consumers in purchasing fuel efficient tires for their vehicle,” RMA wrote. “On the other hand, this rating approach encourages consumers to purchase smaller tires and could promote the purchase of tires with inadequate load-carrying capacity to safely carry the load of the vehicle. Although many tire dealers would discourage and in many cases would not sell a tire with a rated load capacity insufficient for the vehicle, NHTSA should not promote a system that could lead to this type of safety concern.”

RMA said that NHTSA should develop a system that promotes tire efficiency, regardless of vehicle class.

“Unfortunately, since the proposed system would not favorably rate any tires suitable for larger vehicles, it would send the message to owners of these vehicles that they have no fuel efficient tire choices, so they should not base tire purchasing decisions on this information,” RMA wrote.

RMA also expressed opposition to the propose tire rating system label as a means of providing point of sale information to consumers.

“RMA proposes that NHTSA mandate that tire retailers have the rating information available to consumers in the dealer showroom or waiting area. RMA recommends that NHTSA give tire retailers options for making this information available and require that each retailer choose one or more options that suits their business model and needs. Options could include: tire manufacturer brochures, tire manufacturer product catalogues, in-store online access to the NHTSA website, tire manufacturer websites or the tire retailer’s website containing the rating information,” RMA stated.

RMA estimates that initial costs for manufacturer testing and reporting would range from $14,657,250 to $53,157,440, while annual costs range from $12,280,322 to $34,745,722. Initial costs for the proposed tire labeling requirements would range from $21,921,745 to $30,641,745, while the annual cost estimates range from $11,543,764 to $16,782,340. RMA said in its comments that NHTSA underestimated industry costs.

“The tire industry has long supported the concept of providing information to consumers about its products at point of sale and welcomes the opportunity to begin providing consumer information about a tire’s contribution to vehicle fuel economy,” RMA said.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products.

Millions of Drivers Wasting Gas, Risking Safety

Motorists Encouraged to “Be Tire Smart” During National Tire Safety Week

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.June 8, 2009 - Tens of millions of U.S. motorists continue to ignore a simple step that can save money, save gas and save lives: checking tire pressure.

A project sponsored by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) found that about half of surveyed passenger vehicles had at least one under inflated tire. More alarming is that nearly one in five vehicles had at least one significantly under inflated tire that can compromise safety and waste gas.

RMA is spearheading its eighth annual National Tire Safety Week June 7-13 to help educate motorists about the importance of proper tire care. To drive home the point of Americans’ lack of tire smarts, RMA worked with several tire retailers to collect actual tire pressure measurements from more than 5,400 vehicles.

“Few actions that are so simple and quick to do have such striking benefits,” said Charles A. Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “Taking five minutes every month to check tire pressure will put money in consumers’ pockets, reduce national fuel consumption, help tires last longer and save lives.”

Properly inflated tires can improve fuel efficiency by 3.3 percent and save $.06 a gallon at the pump, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Approximately 1.2 billion gallons of fuel are wasted each year by U.S. motorists driving on under inflated tires.

Under inflated tires also pose a safety risk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that under inflated tires contribute to more than 600 fatalities and 33,000 injuries each year.

Among the RMA tire pressure survey findings:

• Only 9% of vehicles had four properly inflated tires.
• 50% of vehicles had at least one under inflated tire.
• 19% of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 8 pounds per square inch (psi.)
• 26% of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 6 psi.
• 38% of vehicles had at least one tire under inflated by 4 psi.

Although all new vehicles are now equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems, these systems issue a low pressure warning only after tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure. In many cases, an 8 psi loss of pressure would not trigger a warning light and would cause a loss of fuel economy and could lead to a vehicle safety issue.

In addition to the tire pressure survey, RMA commissioned a poll of registered drivers to gauge their knowledge of proper tire maintenance.

While a strong majority of drivers rate checking tire pressure as one of the top actions they can take to save fuel, 82 percent do not know how to properly check tires.

• 44 percent of drivers wrongly believe that the correct inflation pressure is printed on the tire sidewall. Another 14 percent do not know where to find the correct pressure.
• 20 percent of drivers wrongly believe that the best time to check their tires is when they are warm after being driven for at least a few miles.
• Nearly 2 out of 3 drivers do not know how to tell if their tires are bald.

To properly check tire pressure, motorists should check once each month; check tires when cold – before the vehicle is driven and; use the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure found on a label located on the driver’s door or door post or check the owner’s manual.

“In an Earth Day address this year, President Obama repeated his fuel-saving campaign advice to Americans to check tire pressure,” Cannon said. “We couldn’t agree more and hope more Americans will take five minutes every month and be tire smart.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.

CALIFORNIA TIRE MEASURE IS A LAWSUIT MAGNET

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

RMA Says Bill is Inconsistent, Contradictory, Fear-Mongering

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 28, 2009 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association today criticized a California Assembly bill as “inconsistent”, “contradictory,” and “fear-mongering” that would only serve to increase lawsuit opportunities for the bill’s primary supporters – trial lawyers.

The Assembly passed the measure today by a vote of 41-28.

AB 496 would selectively require consumer notification about a tire’s chronological age on some sellers of replacement tires, primarily tire dealers. Supporters of the measure claim that tires reaching a certain age are a potential safety hazard and say the notification is necessary to prevent older tires from being placed into service.

However, supporters’ alleged concern with motorist safety is contradicted by provisions in the bill that would exempt millions of tires from the bill’s age notification.

“Proponents of this bill use fear-mongering to allege that tires reaching a certain chronological age are dangerous,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president, public affairs. “But the bill is inconsistent in its application. Any consumer who buys tires or a vehicle in a private transaction, or who buys a new or used vehicle from a dealer or who buys replacement tires from an auto dealer would not receive a notification under this proposal. These exemptions make the measure contradictory on its face and are implicit acknowledgement that chronological tire age alone is not a hazard.”

RMA also says that the measure’s notification provisions are confusing and likely to result in second-guessing by trial lawyers.

“Providing a simple, understandable notification to consumers about a tire’s date of manufacture is reasonable,” Zielinski said. “But the bill provides several options that would likely lead to trial lawyers’ accusations that a dealer didn’t provide the most appropriate notification. This would force nearly all notifications to be given prior to the point of sale which will result in needless service delays.”

In an earlier letter of opposition to AB 496 author, Assembly Member Mike Davis, RMA noted that a prior-to-sale notification would be impractical and burdensome.

Although several auto and tire manufacturers have issued recommendations for tire replacement after a number of years, none are derived from technical data that suggests a tire would not perform after such time.

Allegations that there is a correlation between tire performance and chronological tire age are unfounded and unsupported by data. No auto industry, tire industry or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data has determined that a tire cannot perform when it reaches a particular chronological age.

Information provided by RMA to NHTSA shows that chronological tire age is not a factor in tire performance. An RMA study of 14,000 scrap tires did not reveal any indication that tires are removed from service once they reach a certain chronological age. A second comprehensive study of all claims made by consumers to tire manufacturers over a six-year period showed that the rate of claims as a function of the chronological age of tires actually decreases after six years.

“AB 496 would only benefit trial lawyers by creating a new roadmap to sue California tire dealers,” Zielinski said. “The measure makes inaccurate statements about tire performance and imposes new burdens on tire retailers in a particularly unfortunate economic climate.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.

RMA Statement on Nomination of Charles A. “Chuck” Hurley for NHTSA Administrator

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.April 9, 2009 - The Rubber Manufacturers Association looks forward to the opportunity to work with the next Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. President Obama’s choice to lead NHTSA, Charles A. “Chuck” Hurley, has a long career in automotive safety advocacy including the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, National Safety Council and, most recently, the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“Mr. Hurley has had a distinguished career as a motorist safety advocate,” said Charles A. Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “Mr. Hurley’s nomination sends a strong signal that this Administration shares the tire manufacturing industry’s commitment to safety. We recognize Mr. Hurley’s long-term efforts to engage the public making our highways safer.

“If confirmed by the Senate, we look forward to an early opportunity to meet with Mr. Hurley to educate him about our industry’s commitment to safety,” Cannon said. “We would further welcome his partnership in communicating important tire care and maintenance messages to U.S. motorists.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.