Controversial NHTSA tire testing proposals are back in news

May 30, 2002

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) proposed tire testing standards that were originally announced several months ago are making headlines again.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on NHTSA's proposals earlier today, while first reported on the development back in February.

NHTSA is calling for speed tests that are substantially higher than those currently specified, longer endurance tests and "a more stringent combination of testing parameters" like ambient temperature, load, and inflation pressure, plus new road hazard impact and bead unseating tests.

The agency published its proposals three months ago in an 82-page document.

Buried on page eight on that document, NHTSA officials said that "based on testing, we estimate that about one-third (32.8%) of all tires would need improvements to pass" suggested road hazard and bead tests.

"The overall annual cost of these tests for new original equipment and replacement tires is estimated at $282 million."

A spokesman from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) told earlier today that the standards are "unnecessary."

"NHTSA has not made a case that such a large number of tires would fail."

He calls the agency's proposals "arbitrary."

NHTSA is accepting feedback about the proposals through June 5.

Written comments should be submitted to Docket Management, Room PL-401, 400 7th St. SW, Washington, D.C., 20590.

Feedback can be submitted electronically by logging onto and clicking on "Help & Information" or "Help Info."

The Tire Association of North America/International Tire & Rubber Association is wrapping up its final comments.