ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Feb. 21, 2012)—A Maryland state bill that would require labels on all tires sold in the state giving the month and year of the tires' manufacture is unnecessary, burdensome and misleading to consumers, the Rubber Manufacturers Association told the Maryland House Committee on Economic Matters today.
House Bill 729 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 940, “are vehicles for trial lawyers to inflate their earnings at the expense of the tire and automotive industry while doing nothing to promote motorist safety,” said Tracey Norberg, RMA senior vice president, regulatory affairs and corporate counsel, at a committee hearing on HB 729.
Besides requiring a tire age label, HB 729 would require tire dealers to present a statement to consumers to the effect that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends tire replacement after six years. However, as the RMA and the Tire Industry Association both pointed out, NHTSA has never made such a recommendation.
The bill would require dealers to present a receipt or invoice to tire buyers stating the date of manufacture of every tire they sell. Consumers would have to sign the invoices, and dealers would have to give them copies and keep the originals for at least three years. Each infraction of the bill's provisions is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Chronological age is not an indicator of tire performance, Norberg told the committee. The RMA conducted a survey of more than 14,000 scrap tires across the U.S. that were recently removed from service, and asked the committee to notice their chronological ages, she said.
“If older tires were more likely to fail, we would have seen a spike in the rate of removal for older tires,” Norberg said. “We saw no correlation to chronological age.”
Later, the RMA submitted data to NHTSA showing that the claims rate for failed tires was “very steady” for tires aged two to 11 years, she said.
The introduction of HB 729 caused widespread concern across the tire industry. TIA Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield briefed Maryland members on the bill just before the committee hearing, then walked with them to the hearing room to express the opposition of Maryland tire dealers to the legislation.
Supporters of HB 729 include ABATE of Maryland, a motorcyclists' association protesting a member's catastrophic accident allegedly caused by an aged tire sold as new, and Safety Research & Strategies Inc., the safety group that has long advocated tire age legislation and regulation.