Federal Tire Legislation Promotes Safety, Fuel Efficiency and Competitiveness

RMA Supports Measure Sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham

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

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 10, 2015 — Congress will consider legislation to create minimum tire performance standards for tire fuel efficiency and wet traction; improve manufacturers’ ability to contact consumers in the event of a tire recall; and create a web-based tool for consumers and tire dealers to more easily determine whether a tire is subject to a safety recall.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) this week introduced the Tire Efficiency, Safety and Registration Act, S.1741.  Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) cosponsored the bill.   S. 1741 is strongly supported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), the national trade association for tire manufacturers that produce tires in the U.S.

“This legislation will significantly help improve consumer safety, vehicle fuel economy and industry global competitiveness as well as regulatory consistency,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president, public affairs.  “We applaud Sen. Graham for taking a leadership role in Congress to introduce this measure and appreciate Sen. Brown and Sen. Wicker for their support.”

The bill contains three sections:

Minimum Tire Performance Standards for fuel efficiency and Wet Traction

  • Establishing a minimum tire fuel efficiency performance standard will eliminate the least fuel efficient tires from the passenger tire market, while a wet traction performance standard will help ensure tire fuel efficiency improvements are not achieved that the expense of wet traction performance and safety.
  • Several other nations already have adopted similar standards. Adopting these standards helps to ensure that the United States does not become a dumping ground for lower performing tires.

“RMA members support these performance standards to help consumers and the nation conserve fuel without compromising wet traction safety performance,” Zielinski said.

Improving Consumer Notification of Tire Recalls

  • 1741 will require tire sellers to register tires to boost registration rates and improve the ability of tire manufacturers to directly notify consumers of a tire recall so that tires with potential safety issues can be quickly removed from service and replaced.
  • In 1982, federal law was changed from requiring tire sellers to register tires at point of sale to only requiring tire sellers to provide the means to register tires to consumers. This change resulted in the tire registration rate dropping from nearly 50 percent to about 15 percent.
  • Tire manufacturers are currently required to notify consumers who may be affected by a tire recall. But this is made difficult by the current low tire registration rates. Tire dealers now are required only to provide a paper registration card to every consumer who purchases new tires to document the tire identification number (TIN).  The consumer then should complete the card with contact information and mail it to the tire manufacturer who keeps the information in the event of a tire recall.
  • By requiring registration at the point of sale, registration rates will increase and manufacturers will be better able to meet their requirement to notify consumers of a tire recall.

Create a consumer-friendly lookup tool to search tire recalls

  • All tire recalls are reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) yet the agency does not maintain an easy, consumer-friendly database to search for tire recall information.
  • 1741 would require NHTSA to develop a tire recall lookup tool searchable by TIN to enable consumers and tire sellers to quickly determine whether a tire is subject to a recall.
  • A searchable system for automobile recalls using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is available on NHTSA’s web site.

“Together, these provisions will improve the ability for tire manufacturers to notify consumers in the event of a tire recall,  boost the competitiveness of the U.S. tire manufacturing industry and help to harmonize an often complicated global regulatory structure,” Zielinski said.  “We will continue to work with Sens. Graham, Brown, Wicker and others to enact this measure.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for tire manufacturers that produce tires in the U.S. All RMA press releases are available at www.rma.org.

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.