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Industry awaits final tire testing standards

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The industry is anxiously awaiting the content of the Tire Testing and Performance Standards rule developed by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) now that it has been reviewed by the White House Office Of Management and Budget.

"While it is not clear when this final rule will be announced, it is likely to be within the next two weeks," says a Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) spokesman.

NHTSA's tire testing regulation is a revision to standards that are more than 30 years old. The regulation for revising federal tire testing standards was included in the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, which Congress passed in November 2000.

In its original response to the proposed ruling, the RMA clearly did not support it:

"More than 40% of passenger car tires and more than 50% of light truck tires would not withstand proposed new federal tire testing standards," said the RMA in comments submitted to NHTSA. Those numbers are "far greater than the 30% that NHTSA believes would not meet the proposed standard."

The group called the proposal "unwarranted and extreme" given the high level of safety and performance of today’s tires.

"Today’s tires are safe," said RMA CEO and President Don Shea. "Tires last longer than ever before and often perform safely even when driven for periods of time while underinflated and overloaded. However, no tire can withstand an unlimited amount of abuse and be expected to perform."

RMA statistics show the percentage of tires cited in accident statistics compared to the population of tires is 0.0013%.

"NHTSA has absolutely failed to demonstrate that a significant population of today’s tires is not performing in a safe and reliable manner," Shea said at the time.

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