NHTSA should protect confidential information, TIA says

July 2, 2002

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) to preserve the confidentiality of all early warning information submitted by tire manufacturers.

Congress did not intend for early warning data to be public information, according to TIA officials.

"Various entities will be required to submit information to NHTSA in the interest of protecting the public," TIA lobbyists Becky MacDicken and Roy Littlefield wrote to NHTSA yesterday.

"Yet if all the information is disclosed, these entities will produce the bare minimum required" in the interest of protecting trade secrets.

"If, on the other hand, they know the information will be kept confidential, or even if they are allowed to request confidentiality, they will be more likely to provide robust amounts of data."

In addition, not classifying early warning information as confidential "would potentially release tremendous amounts of inaccurate data to the public."

The TREAD (Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation) Act was originally designed to give NHTSA access to information so the agency could identify possible safety problems, according to TIA.

"It was not intended to provide the public with tremendous amounts of raw data so they can find trends in tire performance."

TIA also wants NHTSA to keep customer complaints and warranty adjustments confidential "unless proven by NHTSA to be a serious safety concern."

TIA also notes that NHTSA has yet to establish final early warning system regulations.