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.

Gas is Cheaper, but are Savings “Rolling” Away with Under Inflated Tires?

National Tire Safety Week is May 24‐30
Industry Wants Motorists to Be Tire Smart

For more information contact:                                                     Additional Materials
Dan Zielinski                                                                                      B-Roll
(202) 682-4846                                                                                 Be Tire Smart Resources
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, DC, May 21, 2015 – More than 33 million Americans will hit the road this Memorial Day weekend to kick‐off the summer driving season; but many will be wasting gas and putting themselves at risk with poorly maintained, under inflated tires.

“No road trip should start without first checking tire pressure and inspecting tires for damage and insufficient tread depth,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president, public affairs. “Vehicles with under inflated tires burn more gas and have a greater risk of tire damage that may lead to failure. Consumers who are tire smart and maintain tires will help keep their families safe, keep more money in their wallet and help the environment.”

A 2015 RMA survey found that more than 30% of US drivers are less concerned about gas mileage performance since gas prices have dropped over the past year. A whopping 50% of drivers aged 18‐29 say they are unconcerned with gas mileage performance.

“Tire care shouldn’t take a back seat because of lower gas prices,” Zielinski said. “National Tire Safety Week is May 24‐30 and is a good time to start a habit of regular, monthly tire maintenance to help promote safety, save money at the gas pump and help tires last.”

RMA survey findings include:

  • Only 17 percent of drivers are “tire smart” or know how to properly check tire pressure.
  • 1 out of 3 drivers don’t know that tires should be checked “cold” – before driving.
  • 35 percent of drivers do not know how to tell if their tires are bald.
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 drivers do not check the tire pressure in their spare tire.
  • 4 in 10 drivers believe they can tell if a tire is under inflated just by looking at it.
  • Half of all drivers don’t know where to find the correct inflation pressure for their vehicle. (Label on a vehicle’s driver side door or owner’s manual; not tire sidewall.)

National Tire Safety Week is an RMA initiative designed to educate motorists about proper tire maintenance. The effort is part of RMA’s Be Tire Smart – Play Your PART national consumer education program. PART is an acronym representing Pressure, Alignment, Rotation and Tread – the four key elements of tire care.

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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.

RMA Recommends Pro-Safety Steps to National Transportation Safety Board

Emphasizes Improved Tire Registration; Prohibition on Unsafe Used Tires; More Consumer Education

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

WASHINGTON, DC, December 9, 2014 — The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) today offered a four-point plan to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to help improve motorist safety.  NTSB began a two-day symposium to discuss tires’ contribution to motor vehicle safety.

“Safety is the tire industry’s number-one priority,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA senior vice president.  “We welcome the opportunity that the NTSB event provides to the tire manufacturing industry to discuss steps that can be taken to improve motorist safety.

RMA will offer four steps for NTSB to include as recommendations when the agency finalizes a report on its study of tire-related issues later next year.

  1. Improve Tire Registration: Congress should change the current tire registration law to require tire sellers to electronically register tires at point of sale.  Current law only requires dealers to offer a paper card to consumers who must then mail the information to the tire manufacturer.  Tire registration is a critical safety issue that allows consumers to be notified by a tire manufacturer in the event of a recall.  Overall, fewer than 20 percent of all tires are registered.
  1. TIN Lookup Tool: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should create a web-based tool that tire dealers and consumers could use to quickly determine whether a tire is subject to a recall.  A search tool would be based on the tire brand, model and Tire Identification Number (TIN) that is molded onto the tire sidewall.  Currently, all tire manufacturers or importers of record must notify NHTSA of any tire recalls.  Manufacturer submissions are entered into a government database but not easily utilized by tire dealers or consumers.
  1. Stop Sales of Unsafe Used Tires: States should enact legislation to prohibit the sale of unsafe used tires.  More than 30 million used tires become available for sale each year.  Worn-out, damaged, improperly repaired tires are readily available from used tire shops across the nation.  RMA is advocating state unsafe used tire legislation in at least four states in 2015.  RMA efforts supported successful enactment of unsafe used tire legislation in Colorado in 2014.
  1. Urge States to Help Motorists Be Tire Smart: States should incorporate tire care and maintenance messages into highway safety programs.  RMA and tire manufacturers work with many stakeholders to promote proper tire maintenance and can share information and content to assist state highway safety offices.  States should issue reminders during periods of heavy travel periods; use of roadside signs and other credible communication tools available should be used by states when possible.

 

“We believe that these four common-sense steps can have a positive effect on highway and motor vehicle safety,” Zielinski said.

According to NHTSA, tire related crashes, injuries and fatalities have dropped dramatically and faster than overall highway crashes, injuries and fatalities.

“Tires are critical vehicle safety equipment and they are delivering superior performance to consumers,” Zielinski said.  “We want motorists to understand that maintenance is vital to safety performance and the industry will continue to work to educate consumers about proper tire care.”

 

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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. 

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.

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.

Tire Industry Study: Chronological Age Alone Does Not Determine When Tires Are Removed From Service

May 9, 2006 Presentation to SAE

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

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 23, 2006 – A comprehensive study of more than 14,000 scrap tires shows that chronological age alone cannot determine when a tire is removed from service.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association inspected tires at seven large scrap tire processors in seven states and recorded the tires’ date code and tread depth as well as whether the tires had been repaired or had any visible damage. The study data has been shared with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

RMA initiated the study late last year. In June 2005, RMA wrote to NHTSA urging the agency to examine whether a relationship existed between a tire’s safety performance and its chronological age. In the letter, RMA also agreed to work with the agency to provide information about chronological tire age.

“We believe that a good starting point for a discussion about chronological age and tires was to examine tires that had been removed from service,” said Laurie Baulig, RMA general counsel.

RMA’s scrap tire survey examined more than14,000 tires that had been removed from service. The date codes on the tires showed that the survey sample contained tires from one to sixteen years old. If chronological age was a determining factor in tire performance, the data would have shown a spike of tires removed from service after a particular time.

“If age was a sole factor in determining tire service life, our data would have shown a significant number of tires being removed from service at a particular point,” Baulig said. “Our data showed no magic date when tires are removed from service.”

Other study observations included:

  • 42 percent of tires in the study were removed due to wear-out (had tread at or below tread wear indicators). After the first year of service, 59 percent of tires in the study were removed due to wear-out.
  • 25 percent of the tires had road hazard damage.
  • 17 percent of the tires had been repaired.
  • Alarmingly, 87.5 percent of the observed tire repairs were improper – not performed with a plug and internal patch as specified by RMA tire repair guidelines.

The RMA scrap tire study encompassed 14,271 randomly selected tires observed at seven scrap processing facilities in five geographic regions of the country. The seven sites were located in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Trained tire technicians from RMA member companies painstakingly observed approximately 2,000 tires at each site and recorded manufacture date code, tire wear and any visual damage or tire repair.

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include more than 100 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.