WASHINGTON—The Tire Industry Association is the logical organization to administrate the consumer education program portion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's tire fuel efficiency standard, TIA representatives told NHTSA at a hearing that covered the agency's five-year strategic plan.
Testifying for TIA at the Feb. 24 meeting were Executive Vice President Roy Littlefield; Kevin Rohlwing, TIA senior vice president of training; and former Rep. Al Wynn, D-Md.
TIA's extensive training program, relationship with the tire industry and diverse, growing membership make it the best-fit organization in the U.S. to run the consumer education program, Littlefield and Rohlwing told the safety agency.
The success of the tire fuel efficiency standard depends on the participation of tire dealers, and TIA has the best chance of reaching those dealers, according to Rohlwing. Littlefield said his association could ensure the fuel efficiency standard doesn't suffer the fate of the Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standard, which remains largely unknown to consumers after more than 30 years.
Rep. Wynn, a sponsor of the legislation that contained the tire fuel efficiency provision when he served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said he was concerned that a bill passed in 2007 still has not been fully implemented.
"There were significant and lengthy debates about the methodology for the rating/labeling program," he said. "This resulted in stops, starts and delays.
"While we appreciated the supplemental information request for the program, it does not appear that sufficient initial thought was given to these issues or to the practical limits of a paper label on a tire," Wynn said.
TIA offered NHTSA a detailed plan to work in a public-private partnership with the agency to train employees of tire dealerships to give customers a concise description of the tire efficiency rule's importance and meaning.
"NHTSA declined this approach in favor of a more passive consumer education model featuring reading materials and infographics, some of which require electronic equipment not found in most tire stores," TIA said.
NHTSA promulgated the final rule on tire fuel efficiency in March 2010, but it left the final language on labeling format, testing and consumer education for a later date. March 2014 is the current target date for those provisions, but the agency has missed several previous deadlines.