WASHINGTON-Efforts to create a voluntary program for truck tire fuel economy labeling are proceeding well, according to testimony at an Oct. 25 meeting at National Highway Traffic Safety Administration headquarters. A task force on traction test repeatability for truck tires also is getting encouraging results, speakers said at the meeting of the NHTSA Motor Vehicle Safety Research Advisory Committee Heavy Truck Subcommittee.
President Clinton's Global Climate Action Plan calls for rolling resistance rating of passenger tires but does not extend to heavy truck tires, said Robert M. Clarke, chairman of the NHTSA Heavy Vehicle Research Division.
Furthermore, there is no system of grading truck tire characteristics analogous to the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System for passenger tires. NHTSA views UTQGS as the logical place to introduce a rolling resistance grade.
The Heavy Truck Subcommittee empaneled a task force last May, attempting to measure the affect rolling resistance information would have on buyers, Mr. Clarke said.
The panelists are consulting with the Society of Automotive Engineers to see if an existing or modified SAE standard could serve as the basis for a truck tire rolling resistance system.
Whatever rating system the task force devises won't necessarily involve sidewall markings, Mr. Clarke said.
Peggy Fisher, a task force member and president of Roadway Tire Co., told Mr. Clarke ``she didn't think sidewall markings would be of any use at all to her'' because she buys tires based on information from fleet vendors.
At the same time, truckers need not fear any loss of traction because of a rolling resistance grade, said Frank Timmons, task force member and vice president-technical and standards for the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
``One thing you can be sure of is that tire manufacturers won't make rolling resistance changes that will degrade traction capabilities,'' Mr. Timmons said.
Meanwhile, the NHTSA-SAE cooperative research program on the Truck Tire Characterization project is heading steadily toward its goals, according to James Britell of NHTSA.
The project, which began in November 1992, is already near the end of its first phase, Mr. Britell said. That phase is the development of a standardized test procedure for measuring truck tire traction, with the test procedures encompassing free rolling cornering, straight line braking and combined cornering and braking.