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WASHINGTON—Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) are doing the job they were intended to do—reduce the incidence of tire underinflation and the resultant safety and environmental issues—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded in a recently released 58-page report.

The organization estimates that the presence of TPMS in some model-year 2004-07 vehicles reduced the likelihood that those vehicles would have a severely underinflated tire—25 percent or more below the recommended cold-inflation pressure—by nearly 56 percent when compared with vehicles of the same period that were not so equipped. The agency studied tire pressure in more than 6,000 vehicles during 2011.

NHTSA derived its calculation from the raw numbers that showed 23.1 percent of the vehicles monitored without TPMS had at least one severely underinflated tire, vs. only 11.8 percent of the vehicles equipped with TPMS. The percentage dropped to just 5.7 percent of model-year 2008-11 vehicles, NHTSA said.

In its summary of the study—”Evaluation of the Effectiveness of TPMS in Proper Tire Pressure Maintenance”—NHTSA concluded that the owner of a typical passenger car saves 9.32 gallons of fuel during the first eight years of the car's operation, and that the savings for the owner of a typical light truck is 27.9 gallons of fuel.

TPMS is also estimated to result in a 30.7-percent reduction in the likelihood of severe overinflation—defined as 25 percent or more above the manufacturer's recommended cold tire pressure—for model year 2004-2007 vehicles. This effect was present in vehicles with TPMS systems that do not alert the driver to overinflation, NHTSA said, and it is unclear what causes the association between TPMS and reduced overinflation.

The agency estimated the collective vehicle fleet fuel savings to have been worth $511 million.

The report does not attempt to measure the relationship between TPMS and vehicle safety, NHTSA said; rather, it measures the relationship between TPMS and proper tire inflation. In order to estimate the effect that TPMS has on crash avoidance and mitigation, future analyses are planned that will use realworld crash data.

The agency is seeking comments, which should be submitted before March 19, 2013. Interested parties can submit comments by mail, fax, online or email.

By mail: send two paper copies of comments to: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Management Facility, M-30, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm. W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

By fax: same address, to 202-493-2251.

Online: Use the Federal eRulemaking Portal—http://www.regulations.gov—and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

By email: to Charles J. Kahane, Chief, Evaluation Division, NVS-431, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—chuck.kahane@dot.gov.
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