BOWIE, Md. (Oct. 13, 2011)—Saying five years is too long for consumers to wait, the Tire Industry Association has submitted comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on the continued delay of the implementation of a tire consumer education program on the fuel efficiency of tires.
In its response to NHTSA, the Bowie-based trade group also addressed the consumer information collection methodology for the education program and promulgation of the rules for the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The goals of the Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Information Program are to increase fuel efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase America's energy independence, according to TIA, and EISA mandated a program calling for the promulgation of rules as of December 2009. Yet, TIA said, NHTSA has yet to issue them.
TIA maintained in its comments that the education of consumers on the proper inflation and maintenance of tires can begin almost immediately and be available by the beginning of 2012. The law must be bifurcated to allow this process to begin, the association said, adding that it acknowledges that the tire efficiency labeling system included in EISA requires additional deliberation.
TIA assisted NHTSA in amassing data during Phase I of the research process connecting the agency with tire dealers. However, the association noted “there are serious concerns about the upcoming quantitative research phase and its reliance on data gathered via an online survey approach.”
TIA President Mike Berra Jr. said that since NHTSA research has an especially targeted audience of consumers who are purchasing tires, “conducting the questionnaires in stores is the ideal circumstance.”
Furthermore, he asserted that “online surveying has numerous issues, including its reliance on closed ended questions; being online is a completely different circumstance than when a consumer is in an auto service shop buying tires; and the fact that so many online surveys are veiled sales scams. Therefore many Americans avoid online surveys because of a previously bad experience.”
Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, added that “surveying a customer while they are in the process of purchasing new tires will yield more accurate results, giving NHTSA a direct, focused snapshot of the tire purchase experience.”