Electronic tire registration would vastly increase the number of tires registered and make registration easier for everyone involved, the Rubber Manufacturers Association has told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Current NHTSA regulations on tire registration-which mandate a registration form ``not less than .007 inches thick''-expressly and inadvertently forbid the use of computers and other electronic means to record tire registration information, noted Ann Wilson, RMA senior vice president-government affairs, in a March 28 letter to the agency.
``The current tire registration system was crafted in 1970, when telephones were rotary dial and most computers were the size of a small car,'' Ms. Wilson wrote. RMA data show that no more than 10 percent of tire registration forms ever make it back to the manufacturers, she said, and many of those are incomplete, inaccurate or illegible.
``This poor return rate frustrates the important safety objective underlying the regulation-to identify and notify consumers in the event of a product recall or other safety problem involving their tires,'' Ms. Wilson said.
Since NHTSA already has approved changes in registration of child safety seats to allow for electronic means, Ms. Wilson said, it shouldn't object to allowing tire registration by Internet, e-mail or telephone. ``American consumers have become accustomed to, and often prefer, e-mail and other electronic transactions,'' she wrote. ``There is no reason to believe that consumers would not similarly take advantage of an electronic registration system for their tires.''
Becky MacDicken, director of government affairs for the Tire Industry Association (TIA), said her association fully supported the RMA's recommendation. ``To bring the registration system into the 21st century would be to everyone's benefit,'' she said.
In 1982, the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association-forerunner to TIA-fought for and won a voluntary tire registration system, in which tire dealers would no longer be responsible for mailing in registration forms. The voluntary system, in effect to this day, was a provision in the Surface Transportation Act enacted that year.