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SmarTire responds to OMB's letter of delay

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Last week, the federal government's Office of Management and Budget delayed a rule that would require all new cars to come with tire pressure monitoring systems. SmarTire Systems Inc. continues to support the proposal.

In a letter to NHTSA, the OMB made its decision on the grounds the systems would discourage the use of anti-lock braking systems (ABS). It wants NHTSA to allow an indirect braking system in which ABS brakes would measure the rotation of all four tires and alert the monitor to speed imbalances caused by air pressure loss.

In an official statement, SmarTire, a developer of tire pressure and temperature monitoring technology, said it supports the proposed tire safety standards developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as recommended to the OMB.

"These required standards were developed after a thorough review and evaluation of the tire monitoring industry," said the company in its statement. "They reflect the letter and spirit of the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act that was passed into law in November 2000 to improve tire safety and to prevent future injuries and fatalities.

"The passage of the TREAD Act constituted an historic event for the automotive industry, requiring tire monitoring systems be installed on passenger cars and light trucks after November 2003.

"The concern raised by the OMB primarily involves the future of anti-locking braking (ABS) systems. NHTSA is recommending a four-year phasing out of the indirect approach to tire monitoring that utilizes ABS technology. As an alternative, direct measurement systems that provide a greater level of tire safety would become the required industry standard within four years. The OMB is concerned that the proposed rule-making might discourage vehicle manufacturers from installing anti-lock brakes for consumers.

"In July 2001, NHTSA released its initial report outlining the possible standards for improved tire safety and the importance and benefits of direct measurement tire monitoring solutions.

"NHTSA determined that direct measurement technologies offered the best solution to meet the requirements for a driver to be warned when the tire pressure in one or more tires, up to a total of four tires, has fallen to 20% or more below the recommended cold inflation pressure. In the same report, NHTSA concluded that indirect technologies were not able to meet this minimum standard."

Robert Rudman, SmarTire's CEO and president, said tire safety is a critical transportation issue. "As an independent government agency, NHTSA has completed an extensive review of all tire safety solutions. It has evaluated arguments from all concerned parties and concluded that direct measurement systems offer the best tire safety solution.

"Braking safety is an important issue and vehicle manufacturers should be encouraged to install anti-lock brakes but not at the risk of compromising tire safety," he added.

Earlier this year, NHTSA proposed two versions of tire pressure monitoring system regulations.

The first requires that drivers be warned when the pressure in one or more tires -– up to a total of four tires -– falls to 20% or more below the vehicle maker’s recommended cold inflation pressure, or a minimal level of pressure to be specified in the new standard, whichever is higher.

The other option requires that drivers be warned when tire pressure in one or more tires –- up to a total of four -– has fallen to 25% or more below the car maker’s recommended cold inflation pressure or a minimum level of pressure to be specified in the new standard, whichever is higher.

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