WASHINGTONThe U.S. House-Senate conference report for the federal transportation billwhich includes mandatory point-of-sale tire registrationhas been released to both houses.
The House passed the measure in a 359-65 vote on Dec. 3. The Senate was expected to vote on the bill Dec. 4 (after this issue of Tire Business went to press). Tire industry trade groups expected the legislation would pass.
Transportation (FASThe Fixing America's Surface T) Act is a five-year, $325 million surface transportation reauthorization bill that includes a controversial amendment dealing with tire registration.
The 1,301-page conference bill retains three provisions, under the Tire Efficiency, Safety and Registration (TESR) Act section, advocated by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA):
c First, the FAST Act would require tire sellers to register tires at the point of sale to help boost registration rates and improve the ability of tire manufacturers to directly notify consumers of a tire recall, according to the RMA.
However, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) claims the provision would force independent tire dealers back to an archaic, pencil-and-paper registration system that ended in 1982. It would shift the time and expense of registration unfairly to independent dealers; force them to turn over their sales lists to tire makers just as those manufacturers begin online tire sales; and leave independent dealers liable for fines of up to $1,000 per tire or $700,000 per location for failure to register tires, according to TIA.
In its Dec. 2 Weekly Legislative Update, TIA said the FAST Act contains TIA's language requiring the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct a study on requiring tire manufacturers to include electronic identification on every tire that reflects all the information required in the tire identification number, and to ensure that the same type and format of electronic information technology is used on all tires.
This study would be submitted to both the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, TIA said. However, House-Senate conferees deleted TIA's language that the study must be completed before a tire registration rule can be considered.
There is no timetable on the study, and TIA does not understand the logic of deleting the timetable, the Bowie, Md.-based association said.
c Second, the TESR section of the FAST Act would require NHTSA to create a consumer-friendly online tire recall search tool using tire identification numbers (TINs).
c Third, the bill would establish minimum tire performance standards for tire fuel efficiency and wet traction. The fuel efficiency provision is designed to eliminate the least fuel-efficient tires from the passenger tire market, and the wet traction performance standard will help ensure tire fuel efficiency improvements are not achieved at that the expense of wet traction performance and safety, according to the RMA.
Among hundreds of other provisions, the FAST Act also contains language to update its rule governing tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). Conferees modified that provision to clarify that it should not be technology-specific.
The House is expected to vote on the conference report Dec. 3, with the Senate expected to follow suit on Dec. 4.
The RMA said there are no reported issues with the bill that would create opposition in either chamber of Congress, and TIA said it expects the bill to pass overwhelmingly.
President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure.
The National Governors Association (NGA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released a statement Dec. 2 applauding the House-Senate conference committee for delivering the five-year reauthorization of federal highway and public transportation laws and programs.
The groups said they are calling on Congress to move quickly to pass the bipartisan conference report for the FAST Act, adding that its passage will help ensure the long-term federal policy and funding predictability states require to support our nation's multimodal surface transportation and infrastructure systems.
Tire Business Senior Washington Reporter Miles Moore contributed to this story. He can be reached at [email protected]