ATLANTA (April 3, 2002)—The Georgia Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association experienced a bit of dÃ&Copy;jÃ vu recently as a bill requiring tire dealers and manufacturers to provide tire adjustment rates resurfaced in the Georgia legislature.
The GTDRA found itself again fighting passage of Georgia H.B. 377, which would have banned any tire brands from being sold in Georgia if the tire maker failed to make adjustment rates for those brands available to the state Office of Highway Safety.
Initially, dealers also were included in the requirement to post adjustment rates, but that language was later dropped to emphasize manufacturers, according to Tony Sexton, president of the GTDRA.
The bill, introduced last year and defeated in committee before it could go for a full vote, returned to the state's legislative committee, where it was tabled March 18. If it had passed into law, the state could issue a tire recall without authorization from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Mr. Sexton said.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association joined with the GTDRA in lobbying legislators against enacting H.B. 377 in favor of allowing the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act to take its course, Mr. Sexton told Tire Business. NHTSA has set a deadline of June 30 for drawing up rules for the TREAD Act's implementation.
“(The legislators) were really trying to paint a black eye for us all over again,” Mr. Sexton said.
The bill was introduced both times by state Rep. Tyrone Brooks in favor of his late friend Earl Shinholster, a civil rights leader who died after his sport-utility vehicle experienced a tread separation and rolled over. Mr. Sexton said Mr. Brooks has expressed the opinion to local media that his friend could have lived if he had tire adjustment data available to him.
The GTDRA, led by Mr. Sexton and the association's two government affairs representatives, argued that publicizing adjustment rates would put “manufacturers in a contest to see who would have the lowest adjustment rate.” Consumers ultimately would have to pay more for tires, as eliminating certain brands would make supplies tight, Mr. Sexton wrote in a letter to the chair of the House subcommittee on small business.
He said the bill undoubtedly would return in 2003, but the association would continue to fight it. He noted that dealers in other states easily can face similar legal issues and should get involved in their state groups.
“If the (Georgia) association wasn't on the ball, that (bill) would have passed,” he believes, “and it would have put some people out of business.”