Rolling resistance education program may become reality

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This week the United States Senate is expected to vote on an energy bill that would lead to the establishment of a national tire rolling resistance consumer education program.

The bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives last week, would boost federal automobile fuel efficiency requirements. Earlier this year, it was amended to include language that would create the information program.

If the bill is enacted, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will have up to 24 months to start rulemaking on the program, says Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) spokesman Dan Zielinski.

The RMA is in favor of a national rolling resistance consumer education program rather than each state creating its own program. A national program would "pre-empt 49 states from creating their own programs," says Zielinski. "California already has their own."

A national fuel efficiency education program would contain several elements, including:

* authorization by Congress to allow NHTSA to gather and report data on the influence of individual passenger tires on fuel consumption.

* easily understood point of sale information that would be available in a timely manner.

* an efficiency rating system "to facilitate more informed purchasing decisions in the area of tire energy efficiency by allowing comparisons of various tire choices," according to RMA officials.

Zielinski says there's a lot of interest in passing the energy bill. "Gas prices are a huge pressure point. Right now the ball is in the Senate's court."

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