GENEVA, Switzerland—Representatives of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not attend the tire and vehicle regulatory harmonization meetings in Geneva Feb. 16-20, but are expected to be present at the meetings scheduled for March 10-13, sources said.
Negotiations toward globalization of safety and quality standards for tires and vehicles have been ongoing for many years under the aegis of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (also known as Working Party 29 or WP-29) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
Last Nov. 14, Phase 1 of the Global Technical Regulations for international harmonization of tire regulations and markings was ratified in Geneva. The European Union, China, Canada, South Korea, India and other countries voted for the preliminary GTR, but the U.S. abstained.
NHTSA said in a statement the U.S. abstained because it was “not in a position to implement certain additional requirements specified in the U.N. rule. Therefore, the agency did not attend the February meeting ... because new items related to the tire GTR were not on the agenda. The agency continues to monitor developments related to this GTR through its participation in the overarching World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations.”
The one-page agenda for the February meeting covers various topics concerning tires, braking systems, steering equipment and Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS). The 24-page agenda for the March meeting lists committee meetings covering virtually every aspect of vehicles.
International harmonization of tire regulations would be a tremendous boon for tire makers, said Jim Popio, vice president and general manager for Smithers Rapra and Smithers Pira Ltd., in a speech at the International Tire Exhibition and Conference last September in Akron.
However, U.S. and European tire standards are developed under completely different regulatory philosophies, Popio said. Whereas NHTSA's ideal is self-certification of tires by manufacturers, the UNECE and European Commission favor type approval, in which relevant national agencies assure Conformity of Production through third-party laboratory testing.