The Tire Association of North America, which has been rebuilding after several lean years financially, reactivated its government relations program just in time to represent its members in a spate of new federal legislation.
If independent tire dealers need a reason for belonging to TANA, this is it. Dealers, as a group, must have strong representation at the federal and state government levels to convey and support their interests.
In recently passed legislation known as the TREAD Act, TANA rightfully is claiming an important role in narrowing the scope of criminal penalties.
The TREAD Act is short for the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act (HR 5164). It is intended to address the deficiencies of existing federal automotive safety regulations and is one of the most significant pieces of motor vehicle legislation in the last 35 years.
It requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update, study, develop and/or write rules covering 14 different subjects in the area of tire and automotive safety.
Among them are rules for reporting sales of recalled tires, updating the 32-year-old federal passenger tire standards, revising tire labeling to make it easier to read and requiring low-pressure warning devices on new vehicles.
The measure, which the House and Senate approved by voice vote, is expected to be signed by President Clinton.
The bill was introduced in response to the national uproar over the accidents and loss of life linked to failing Firestone tires, most on Ford Explorers. The Senate version originally contained sweeping language that would have placed all tire business professionals—including tire dealers and retreaders—at risk for criminal liability.
TANA and its legislative team, led by new Executive Vice President Ross Kogel and Government Relations Director Rebecca MacDicken, lobbied to tone down the wording of the bill and make the measure less threatening to tire dealers and retreaders.
Had TANA not chosen to reactivate its lobbying effort, tire dealers' interests would not have been as well represented. The result could have been legislation that put tire dealers in a vulnerable position unnecessarily.
Having representation at the government level is one of the key values of membership in a tire dealer organization, whether it's TANA, the International Tire & Rubber Association or one of the state and regional tire dealer associations. With the current public hysteria generated by the Firestone recall and Ford Explorer rollovers, dealers can expect more restrictive legislation and regulation.
Not all of this legislation is harmful to dealers or to the industry. But with their national associations providing strong lobbying efforts, tire dealers and retreaders can be assured that their interests are kept at the forefront of any proposed regulation.