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February 25, 2014

TIA testifies on NHTSA education program

Representatives from the Tire Industry Association (TIA) testified on Feb. 24, 2014, at the U.S. Department of Transportation on the yet-to-be launched National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consumer education program on tire maintenance and safety.

Kevin Rohlwing, TIA senior vice president of training and Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, discussed why TIA was the best fit to administer the program. They cited TIA’s extensive training program, TIA’s relationship with the industry and with the tire manufacturers, and the association’s diverse and growing membership. 

Littlefield told officials that if TIA was not selected to administer the program, the results could be a repeat of the UTQGS program which was a great expense to tire manufacturers and had low consumer buy-in, according to TIA.

In addition, former U.S. Rep. Al Wynn told NHTSA officials that the National Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Education Program was to include a labeling system for rating rolling resistance of various replacement tire models and a national tire maintenance consumer education program including information on tire inflation pressure, alignment, rotation and tread wear to maximize fuel efficiency, safety and durability of replacement tires.

The consumer education program is part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Wynn served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was a sponsor of the bill.

TIA says it offered a detailed plan to work in a public private partnership with NHTSA to train employees of tire retailers to actively deliver a concise message on rolling resistance, fuel efficiency and tire maintenance. 

TIA says NHSTA declined this approach in favor of a more passive consumer education model featuring reading materials and infographics, some of which require electronic equipment not found in most tire stores.

TIA fears that the final product as currently designed will not deliver the desired outcomes in a real world setting. The result is likely to be little real consumer education or behavioral change in terms of increased fuel efficiency despite a significant investment in time and public money, according to TIA.

TIA representatives will be meeting with NHTSA officials again on March 5 to review the first infographic that NHTSA has designed.

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