TRENTON, N.J.The New Jersey Assembly has passed legislation to prohibit the sale of unsafe used tires that the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA)a supporter of the legislationsaid pose a risk to New Jersey motorists and the public.
The vote was 72-0, according to the RMA, which listed the Tire Industry Association and the New Jersey Gas Station-C-Store-Automotive Association (NJGCA) as co-supporters.
The bill, A3896, now goes to the New Jersey Senate for debate.
Introduced by Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter, D-Paterson, the bill would impose a $500 fine for a first offense on any business that sells a tire that exhibits any one of several unsafe conditions, such as worn-out tread, visible damage or improper repairs.
Subsequent violations may be enforced under the state's Consumer Fraud Act.
The bill spells out several examples of what should be considered an unsafe tire, such as:
c Showing a tread depth of less than 1/16 inch measurable in any groove;
c Having any damage that exposes the reinforcing plies of the tire, including any cuts, cracks, bulges, punctures, scrapes or wear;
c Having any improper repairs, including, but not limited to: any repair to the sidewall or bead area of the tire; any repair made in the tread shoulder or belt edge area of the tire; any puncture that has not been sealed or patched on the inside and repaired with a cured rubber stem through the outside of the tire; or any puncture repair of damage larger than 1/4 inch;
c Showing evidence of prior use of a temporary tire sealant without evidence of a subsequent proper repair;
c Having a defaced or missing tire identification number;
c Having inner liner or bead damage; or
c Showing indication of internal separation, such as bulges or local areas of irregular tread wear.
The legislation does not ban all used tire sales, the RMA said. Instead, it targets used tires that have specific, well-established, unsafe conditions.
A second violation would be an unlawful practice under the state's consumer fraud act, and would be considered a first offense under the consumer fraud act.
A third or subsequent violation of the bill's provisions would be considered an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act, and would be considered a subsequent offense under that act.
An unlawful practice is punishable in New Jersey by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense, according to the bill.
Additionally, a violation can result in cease-and-desist orders issued by the attorney general, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains that worn-out tires are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than tires with sufficient tread depth, the RMA said.
NHTSA crash statistics indicate that about 200 fatalities and 6,000 injuries are attributed to tire-related causes annually.
RMA research shows that more than 30 million used tires are available for sale nationally each year.
This is a common-sense, pro-safety, pro-consumer bill, said RMA President and CEO Anne Forristall Luke.
Preventing these unsafe used tires from operating on New Jersey roads will reduce the risk of crashes and save lives. It's that simple.
Ms. Luke thanked Assemblywoman Sumter for her commitment and hard work to pass this legislation to improve motorist and highway safety.
She also praised Assembly Chairman Paul Moriarity, D-Turnersville, for his leadership in passing the bill in the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee.
Tires worn to 1/16th of an inch are considered worn-out and are dangerous, the RMA said, because they no longer provide sufficient grip on the road, particularly under wet conditions.
Likewise, tires with damage exposing steel belts or other internal components threaten a tire's structural integrity.
Improperly repaired tires can suffer loss of inflation pressure or have hidden damage that may contribute to tire failure.
Tires with bulges indicate possible internal damage that can lead to tread separation, according to the RMA.