LOUISVILLE, Ky. (June 5, 2001) — Following initial comments the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) made in February on proposed government Tire Sidewall Labeling Requirements, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has asked the association for further explanation of its position.
"We are interested in any efforts to enhance the safety of the general motoring public," ITRA Executive Director Marvin Bozarth said in response to NHTSA. "We appreciate the opportunity to submit further comments that support our opposition to removing information from a tire sidewall—especially indications of ply-cord material and belt construction."
In its most recent response to NHTSA, Louisville-based ITRA stressed the following:
* Ply-cord material and belt construction information is necessary on a tire sidewall, as steel-cord radial tires operated underinflated or overloaded can experience a circumferential or catastrophic “zipper” rupture in the upper sidewall area. This poses a serious threat to everyone inflating a radial tire with steel-cord sidewall plies.
* ITRA training programs stress the importance of checking the sidewall-ply construction before inflating light truck tires, because every steel-cord tire must be inflated in a safety cage in order for Rubber Manufacturers Association procedures to be followed.
* The number of belts and ply construction information is vital to determine the correct repair unit for an injury. Technicians choose the correct repair unit based entirely on the size of the injury and the corresponding number of damaged plies.
* The negative economical and environmental impact of removing the number of belts from the sidewall of the tire will eventually be felt by the entire transportation industry as retreaders are forced to slow production and raise prices simply because additional time is needed to research the number of belts for each specific make and model.
* The increasingly viable tire and rubber recycling industry is absolutely dependent on knowing a tire's ply-cord material and belt construction to avoid mistakes in the sorting process and to prevent production delays and quality control problems.
ITRA, in its comments to the agency, also strongly emphasized that tire sidewall labeling is a useful tool for the tire inflation, recycling, repairing, retreading and service industries. Individuals associated with the tire industry use this extremely valuable information on a daily basis to protect themselves as well as the general motoring public. By taking it away, ITRA contends that "lives will be unnecessarily endangered."
"We appreciate that NHTSA is keeping the best interest of the public in mind," said ITRA President Tom Raben, adding: "Our members can be proud that the Administration turned to ITRA for expertise on this very important issue for the industry."