RMA submits tyre safety plan to US safety agency

On 9 December, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the trade association representing tyre makers with a manufacturing presence in the US, offered its four-point plan to US Federal agency the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to help improve motorist safety. The NTSB is currently conducting a two-day symposium to discuss the contribution tyres can make to motor vehicle safety.

“Safety is the tyre industry’s number-one priority,” said RMA vice-president Dan Zielinski. “We welcome the opportunity that the NTSB event provides to the tyre manufacturing industry to discuss steps that can be taken to improve motorist safety.” The RMA’s aim is that the NTSB will include the four steps as recommendations when the agency finalises a report on its study of tyre-related issues later in 2015. The four steps are:

Improve tyre registration: The United States Congress should change the current tyre registration law to require tyre sellers to electronically register tyres at point of sale. Current law only requires dealers to offer a paper card to consumers who must then mail the information to the tyre manufacturer. Tyre registration is a critical safety issue that allows consumers to be notified by a tyre manufacturer in the event of a recall. Overall, fewer than 20 per cent of all tyres are registered.

TIN lookup tool: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) should create a web-based tool that tyre dealers and consumers could use to quickly determine whether a tyre is subject to a recall. A search tool would be based on the tyre brand, model and Tire Identification Number (TIN) that is moulded onto the tyre sidewall. Currently, all tyre manufacturers or importers of record must notify NHTSA of any tyre recalls. Manufacturer submissions are entered into a government database but not easily utilised by tyre dealers or consumers.

Stop sales of unsafe used tyres: States should enact legislation to prohibit the sale of unsafe used tyres. More than 30 million used tyres become available for sale each year (in the US). Worn-out, damaged, improperly repaired tyres are readily available from used tyre shops across the nation. RMA is advocating state unsafe used tyre legislation in at least four states in 2015. RMA efforts supported successful enactment of unsafe used tyre legislation in Colorado in 2014.

Urge States to help motorists be ‘tyre smart: States should incorporate tyre care and maintenance messages into highway safety programs. RMA and tyre manufacturers work with many stakeholders to promote proper tyre maintenance and can share information and content to assist state highway safety offices. States should issue reminders during periods of heavy travel periods; use of roadside signs and other credible communication tools available should be used by states when possible.

“We believe that these four common-sense steps can have a positive effect on highway and motor vehicle safety,” Zielinski stated.

According to the NHTSA, tyre-related crashes, injuries and fatalities have dropped dramatically and faster than overall highway crashes, injuries and fatalities. “Tyres are critical vehicle safety equipment and they are delivering superior performance to consumers,” commented Zielinski. “We want motorists to understand that maintenance is vital to safety performance and the industry will continue to work to educate consumers about proper tyre care.”

The Rubber Manufacturers Association represents Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper Tire, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo Tire and Yokohama Tire.

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