USTMA urges NHTSA to cut outdated federal tire regulations

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USTMA is urging NHTSA to cut several “outdated, unnecessary or ineffective” federal tire regulations. USTMA has provided written comments to the agency’s request for public input to reduce regulatory burdens in accordance with an Administration directive to review existing regulations.

“Our recommendations are aimed at modernizing regulations that apply to tire performance testing and ratings, some of which are 50 years old,” said Anne Forristall Luke, USTMA president and CEO. “The tires being manufactured today by USTMA members are far more highly engineered than those of decades ago, and the regulatory framework needs to evolve, too.

“Many of these existing rules apply to tire technology that has long been outdated, don’t provide consumers with meaningful information, and even in some cases could unwittingly stifle innovation,” Luke added.

Regulations targeted for elimination include a bead unseat test, a strength test, the Uniform Tire Quality Grading (UTQG) system and several tire sidewall and label markings. USTMA is also recommending a small change to a portion of the current tire endurance test that would better reflect field performance.

Both the bead unseat test and strength test are 50-year old procedures designed for bias-ply tire technology that is no longer used in passenger and light truck tires. Neither test contributes to the safety of modern radial tires and only adds non-beneficial compliance costs to both manufacturers and government.

The UTQG system rates tires for temperature, traction and tread wear, and requires the ratings to be molded onto tire sidewalls. The ratings themselves are outdated and, more importantly, don’t actually help consumers in comparison shopping. Research shows that tire sidewall information is not effective at communicating meaningful information to consumers during the tire purchase process.

The tread wear rating is ineffective because it doesn’t allow for differentiation of high-performing tires, effectively capping the potential to communicate outstanding performance and potentially stifling incentives for innovation. The wet traction rating is outdated due to modern anti-lock braking technologies. And markings indicating that a tire is tubeless or radial are obsolete since all passenger and light truck tires conform to both these specifications.

In addition to recommending the elimination of outdated regulations, USTMA also reiterated support for NHTSA’s work to advance a modernized regulatory framework that reflects today’s higher performing tires, particularly the tire fuel efficiency and wet traction standards mandated by the FAST Act. These new requirements will ensure that the US consumer market doesn’t become a dumping ground for lower-quality tires that fail to meet similarly rigorous standards.

“The standards will keep the worst performing tires out of the US market, improve overall aggregate vehicle fuel economy for the US fleet and highlight advanced tire technologies,” USTMA wrote.

December 12, 2017

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the ground-breaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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