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NHTSA seeks comment on tire pressure monitoring systems

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed a new federal motor safety standard requiring the installation of tire pressure monitoring systems in new vehicles that would warn drivers when tires experience significant air pressure loss.

NHTSA is seeking feedback on two alternative versions of the regulation, which would affect new passenger cars, light trucks, buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles with gross vehicle weight ratings of 10,000 pounds or less.

Only one version will be in the final rule.

The first option 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 manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure or a minimum 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 three tires, has fallen to 25% or more below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation pressure or a minimum level of pressure to be specified in the new standard, whichever is higher.

Tire pressure monitoring system benefits would include fewer crashes due to tire blowouts, immobilized vehicles and poor vehicle handling due to pressure loss and hydroplaning, resulting in 49 to 79 fewer deaths and 6,585 to 10,635 fewer injuries, according to NHTSA. Additionally, fuel economy and tire life would increase.

Comments will be accepted for the next 45 days at Docket Section, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590, or on NHTSA's Web site http://dms.dot.gov. Click "Help & Information" or "Help/Info" to view instructions. Cite docket number 2000-8572.

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