COLUMBUS, Ohio-About 50 members of the tire manufacturing, retreading and trucking industries have formed a task force to address the problem of tire rubber scattered across the nation's highways. Meeting for the first time June 6 in Columbus, the Tire Debris Prevention Task Force spent several hours developing suggestions for eliminating tire debris from the roadways before dividing itself into a number of implementation committees.
The group, which formed partly in response to a number of recent legislative proposals that have sought to restrict the use of retreads in some states, should grow to include about 70 members, according to Peggy Fisher, president of Roadway Tire Co. in Columbus and chairman of the task force.
``This is the first time in probably the history of our industry that we got the tire, retread and trucking industry working together on the same problem,'' Ms. Fisher said. ``This is an incredible, history-making event. Really, it is.''
Those attending the Columbus meeting were quick to point out that tire debris on the roads contributes to other tire failures, creates a negative perception for retreads and poses a safety hazard to the motoring public.
The task force agreed to form a two-pronged attack to address the problem of tire debris on roadways by educating truck drivers and maintenance personnel on how to avoid on-road blowouts, while addressing the concerns of government officials and legislatures.
To create specific approaches to educating government and fleet personnel, members formed a number of committees that will meet over this summer. Chairs of these committees are scheduled to meet as a steering committee Oct. 16 in Houston in conjunction with the fall meeting of The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations.
The task force committees will examine:
The necessity, feasibility and scope of a possible ``rubber on the road'' survey;
The type and presentation of educational materials that will be distributed to fleet owners, maintenance mangers, truck operators and governmental officials; and
The possible methods of financing the development and distribution of the educational materials.
Ms. Fisher, who is a board member of The Maintenance Council-which sponsored the task force meeting-said that organization is prepared to pay some of the cost of implementing the task force's recommendations. She added, however, that much of the funding probably would come from fund-raising efforts and through ``in-house'' donations of labor and materials from task force members and their companies.
Whatever direction the task force eventually takes to educate fleets and government, it will likely cost a sizable amount of money, according to Tire Retread Information Bureau Managing Director Harvey Brodsky.
``We'd better be ready to fund this big time to make this work. . . ,'' Mr. Brodsky said. ``You can't just do this one time. It has to be ongoing.''
Although specific items of action were left to be hashed out by the task force committees, participants in the meeting agreed that the primary scope of their work would be in developing and distributing educational packets and messages to government and the trucking industry.
Members of the task force examined about 25 ways of reaching truck operators and fleets with their information.
``I can't imagine we would miss too many people,'' Ms. Fisher said.
A primary target of the educational information would be truck drivers and owner/operators, who need to take better care of their tires, task force members said.
``If that's who it is (we want to reach), . . . really you can only tell them two things: You can tell them you've got to inflate the damn things; and also you've got to do a better job than you are now of looking to see if there's some kind of grief that happened to (your tires) since the last time you looked at them,'' suggested Larry Strawhorn of the American Trucking Association. ``And the last time you looked at them, incidentally, should have been the last time you stopped (driving).''
The task force generally agreed that damage to tires run overloaded or underinflated-not the retreading process-was to blame for most of the tire debris on major highways. As such, the group's goals probably will focus on ``reducing'' the amount left on the roads by, for instance, encouraging drivers to stop as soon as they are aware of a tire problem.
``How do we prevent damage to tires? We can't,'' asserted Frank Sonzala, vice president of sales and marketing for Pressure Systems International. ``As long as they're running down the road, you're going to have damage.''
Efforts to educate government officials and legislatures primarily will focus on ``dispelling the myth'' that retreaded tires are to blame for tire debris, Ms. Fisher said. Apart from sending educational packets to government bodies, the group will examine funding a study to determine the nature and causes of on-road tire debris.