BOWIE, Md. (Aug. 23, 2009) — The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is lobbying the the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to become the entity to administer NHTSA's tire fuel-efficiency consumer information program, claiming it is best qualified to do so.
“TIA has the history, resources and expertise to make this important consumer education effort a success,” said Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, in the association's comments on NHTSA's proposed tire fuel efficiency rule. “We also have a history of working together with many different aftermarket organizations — not to mention the tire manufacturers — to formulate a successful consumer education effort.”
TIA offered to work under NHTSA's supervision and advice to create and implement a person-to-person education program between tire buyers and tire sellers, using a trained sales force. That training, the association said, would be based on the training models it uses to educate tire technicians on a wide variety of maintenance and diagnostic techniques.
NHTSA's proposed rule concentrates on posters and pamphlets to educate consumers about tire fuel-efficiency ratings, but does not consider the importance of the dialogue between consumers and sales personnel, TIA said. The association offered to establish a comprehensive training course for tire sellers, in addition to a nationwide public outreach campaign to keep tire maintenance in consumers' minds.
Most of the proposed rule's focus is on developing a fuel-efficiency rating system for tires, TIA said in its comments. However, affixing a rating system label to the tread surfaces of new tires would not be the best way to disseminate the ratings among tire buyers, the association said.
Most tire retailers offer hundreds of different tires, and their showrooms aren't large enough to display them all, Littlefield noted.
“Those tires that are displayed may or may not have a paper tread label,” he said. “Since the current paper tread label is removed by the retailer when the tires are installed, consumers are unlikely to see the actual label.”
Aug. 21 was NHTSA's deadline for comments on the proposed rule. Many organizations — such as the Rubber Manufacturers Association, which lobbied Congress for a tire fuel-efficiency system — worked long hours in the days preceding the deadline to finish their comments, which dealt with many intricate technical questions posed by NHTSA.
Because of the complexity of the information requested, the RMA asked NHTSA for a 30-day deadline extension, but the agency refused.