WASHINGTON — Consumer group Public Citizen does not have standing to challenge the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration´s tire pressure monitoring system standard, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled.
According to a Jan. 22 court ruling by a three-judge panel, Public Citizen did not meet its burden to prove that consumers would be unduly harmed by the NHTSA TPMS rule.
The group objected to provisions allowing a 20-minute lag time between detecting of an underinflated tire and warning the driver, and an inflation of 25 percent below the vehicle manufacturer´s recommended level before the system registers a tire as underinflated.
It also opposed the lack of a provision requiring that all TPMS systems be compatible with replacement tires.
"This is really what happens when very conservative jurists get packed into federal courts-consumers lose," said a Public Citizen spokesman regarding the decision.
Public Citizen, the Tire Industry Association and four tire makers-Goodyear, Bridgestone/Firestone, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Pirelli Tire L.L.C.-filed suit against NHTSA in 2005, asking the appeals court to send the TPMS standard back to NHTSA for revision. As it stood, they claimed, the rule was fundamentally flawed and did not protect motorists from tire-related accidents.
On June 15, 2007, the appeals panel ruled 2-1 that TIA and the tire manufacturers had no standing to challenge the TPMS rule. The majority asked Public Citizen to submit further documentation to establish its standing, while the dissenting judge said he would also declare Public Citizen ineligible.
In its Jan. 22 ruling, the panel noted that, in its original petition to NHTSA, Public Citizen recommended two alternatives regarding TPMS compatibility with replacement tires: require that the systems be compatible or require that auto makers publish a list of compatible tires in the owner´s manual.
"Public Citizen obviously is not injured for purposes of standing if (the TPMS rule) poses no greater risk of injury than one of Public Citizen´s proposed alternatives," the court said.
TIA and the Rubber Manufacturers Association also expressed disappointment with the court´s ruling. The RMA was not part of the lawsuit seeking the right to challenge the standard, but it did petition NHTSA unsuccessfully for a tire pressure reserve load requirement to offset the 25-percent differential.