One constituent letter each was enough for state legislators in New York, Iowa and Virginia to sponsor bills to place severe restrictions on the use of ``spinner'' hubcaps, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
``In each case, a constituent was in traffic next to a vehicle with moving spinner hubcaps, became confused and jammed on the brakes,'' said Steve McDonald, vice president of government affairs for SEMA. To his knowledge, none of these incidents resulted in an accident, he added.
The harshest bill, which would have banned the use of spinner wheels, wheel covers, hubcaps and ``all similar items'' in the Commonwealth of Virginia, died in committee, as did an Iowa bill that would have fined motorists $10 for each instance of driving with spinner wheels on their cars. Still alive-though not moved out of committee-is the New York Senate bill, which would create graduated fines of $150 to $750 for each instance of driving with spinner wheels.
The sponsors of the Virginia and Iowa bills haven't yet decided whether to resubmit them in the next legislative sessions, according to Mr. McDonald.
The New York and Iowa bills only mention hubcaps. As defined in the Iowa bill, a spinner hubcap is ``a removable hubcap or wheel cover that is attached to the wheel of a motor vehicle and continues to rotate, or appears to rotate, after the vehicle has come to a stop.''
Such hubcaps enjoyed a fad about two years ago, Mr. McDonald said, but are much less popular now.
SEMA mobilized its members to write to the New York, Iowa and Virginia legislatures opposing the anti-spinner bills. In a letter to the members of the New York Senate Transportation Committee, Mr. McDonald said that such legislation could prove very harmful to the $3.2 billion annual wheel business in the U.S.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) already has standing safety rules on tires and rims and abandoned its hubcap standard in 1996 when it decided that rule was unnecessary and design-restrictive, Mr. McDonald said in the letter.
Mr. McDonald said there is no indication whether the New York Senate Transportation Committee will vote on the anti-spinner bill before it adjourns.