WASHINGTON — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to endorse electronic registration of tires, which is favored by all but one participant who have made official comments on the subject.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, the Tire Industry Association, the National Automobile Dealers Association and a tire registration firm support the change. CIMS Inc., the nation´s oldest private tire registration firm, opposes it. They all responded in a 30-day comment period by NHTSA, which runs through April 20.
The Office of Management and Budget requires periodic comment on all federal safety information gathering standards. The current request for comments follows a similar 60-day comment period that NHTSA began in December 2006.
The original query was on the efficacy of tire registration in general. The latest comment period is on how electronic registration should be done, in addition to paper registration forms.
The RMA advocated electronic registration forcefully in its February 2007 comments to NHTSA. TIA seconded the RMA´s position, as long as a revised tire registration rule doesn´t place any new burdens on tire dealers. The NADA joined TIA in that support.
In its comments to NHTSA, the RMA made four recommendations:
— A revised regulation should allow tire dealers and distributors to provide either a hard-copy form to consumers or voluntary electronic registration at the point of sale.
— Tire dealers and distributors shouldn´t be forced to do anything regarding tire registration that they´re not doing now. Since 1982, they have been required only to provide forms to tire buyers.
— Tire manufacturers shouldn´t have any further obligations under tire registration regulations. Currently, they are obliged to provide tire dealers and distributors with forms and maintain the registration information for at least five years.
— Registration forms should be revised to contain information that would allow consumers to register tires directly on the manufacturers´ Web sites.
In opposing the change, CIMS President Paul J. Kruder said his company knows the current system is working.
"If the regulation is changed to allow an alternative electronic tire registration method, it will only cause more confusion," he wrote to the NHTSA.
Electronic tire registration could leave independent tire dealers open to increased liability if they do not successfully transfer the tire registration information to the appropriate information center, or if they jeopardize the privacy of tire registration information, Kruder said. Developmental costs, software upgrades and employee training would also add cost burdens to dealers, while the CIMS All-Brand Form costs less than a penny per tire, he said.
However, National Tire Registry Recall.com, endorsed electronic registration.
While requesting several changes and clarifications, the tire registration company said it favors the new proposal in general.
"We believe changes to facilitate electronic registration over the Internet would enhance public safety on the nation´s highways," said Robert E. Coakley, the company´s president.