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SRS protests NHTSA tire age decision

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REHOBOTH, Mass. (July 14, 2014) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) missed the point entirely when it decided not to promulgate rulemaking on tire aging, according to safety watchdog group Safety Research & Strategies Inc.

NHTSA issued a report earlier this year saying it believed it unnecessary to add a tire aging test to the current federal tire safety standard. However, according to Rehoboth-based SRS, a test for tire aging was never the actual goal for advocates of tire-aging regulation.

“The real problem associated with aged tires and aged tire failures is rooted not in the lack of a new test regimen, but in the tire labeling and manufacturers’ unwillingness to adequately educate dealers and motorists about when tires should be removed from service,” said SRS President Sean Kane in a July 11 blog posting on the organization’s website.

In November 2004, SRS submitted to NHTSA the first of three petitions for what it called a consumer-friendly regulation requiring a plain date of manufacture to be molded on tire sidewalls, the organization said. This rulemaking should be separate from the federal tire safety standard, SRS said.

(Safety Research & Strategies Inc.) A hunk of tire tread on a highway is prominently featured on safety watchdog group SRS's website.

“The agency denied this petition, and the result was the continuation of an antiquated and unknown date code buried in the tire identification number,” it said. Subsequent petitions in 2006 and 2012 were also denied, the company said.

Auto makers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen A.G. began warning consumers as early as 1990 that a disproportionate number of tire failures occur after tires reach six years of age, according to SRS. In the last few years, tire makers including Group Michelin, Bridgestone Americas, Yokohama Tire Corp., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Continental Tire the Americas L.L.C. have issued technical bulletins warning consumers that tires should be removed after 10 years regardless of tread depth, SRS said.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association and the Tire Industry Association both hailed the NHTSA report as proof that tire aging regulations are unnecessary. The RMA and TIA also said they hoped the NHTSA report would end attempts by state legislatures to pass tire aging laws.

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