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Proposed CAFE legislation would create rolling resistance info program

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The Senate Commerce Committee has approved legislation concerning Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Included in the bill is language to create a tire rolling resistance consumer information program.

The bill, S. 357, has been amended to include the language, which is supported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA).

"The amendment would direct the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate a rule which establishes a national mandatory tire fuel efficiency consumer information requirement for tires, including those tires suitable for cars, minivans, SUVs and light duty trucks," say RMA officials.

It would containing the following elements:

* Consumer information. Congress would authorize and make sufficient resources available to NHTSA to allow it to gather and report information on the influence of individual passenger tires on vehicle fuel consumption;

* Point-of-sale information: Congress would ensure that the information is widely available in a timely manner and is easily understood by both buyers and sellers;

* Rating system: The regulation would include 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;

* Tire care and maintenance: The bill would require that the tire fuel efficiency information include an explanation of the importance of proper tire inflation pressure maintenance;

* National program: Congress would create a national consumer information and education program "to avoid duplicative and potentially conflicting state requirements that would confuse consumers;"

* Applicability: This provision would apply to new tires for use on passenger vehicles;

* Test methods and requirements: The bill would require selection of a test method to be used by manufacturers in developing consumer information "to avoid variation among test equipment and manufacturers;"

* Compliance and enforcement: Congress would provide for adequate compliance and enforcement to ensure an equal playing field for all manufacturers selling tires in the U.S.

The proposal is consistent with the April 4, 2006, National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board report, Tires and Passenger Vehicle Fuel Economy (TRB Special Report), adds the RMA.

"That report (recommended) that Congress adopt a national program to inform and educate consumers about the influence of passenger tires on vehicle fuel consumption and the crucial role tire maintenance plays in vehicle fuel economy."

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