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TIA to NHTSA: Implement tire info program

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The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

TIA is expressing concern over the continued delay of the implementation of the tire consumer education program, the consumer information collection methodology and the promulgation of the rules for the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007.

The goals of the Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Information Program are to increase fuel efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase America's energy independence. The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which mandates the program, called for the promulgation of rules as of December, 2009, yet the agency has yet to issue them.

Part of the comments TIA submitted are that the education of consumers on the proper inflation and maintenance of tires can begin almost immediately and be available by the beginning of 2012 and that the law must be bifurcated to allow this process to begin. The association says it does agree that the tire efficiency labeling system included in EISA requires additional deliberation.

TIA assisted NHTSA in amassing data during the first phase of the research process connecting the agency with tire dealers. However, there are serious concerns about the upcoming quantitative research phase and its reliance on data gathered via an online survey approach.

“Since NHTSA research has an especially targeted audience of consumers who are purchasing tires, conducting the questionnaires in stores is the ideal circumstance,” says TIA President Mike Berra, Jr. “Online surveying has numerous issues, including its reliance on closed-ended questions. Being online is a completely different circumstance than when a consumer is in an auto service shop buying tires.”

Berra says that because so many online surveys are veiled sales scams, many American's avoid online surveys because of a previously bad experience.

“Surveying a customer while they are in the process of purchasing new tires will yield more accurate results, giving NHTSA a direct, focused snapshot of the tire purchase experience,” says Dr. Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president.

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