WASHINGTON—The Tire Industry Association is urging its members to keep up their opposition to a return to mandatory tire registration, even after the U.S. House of Representatives approved a six-year transportation funding reauthorization containing a mandatory registration provision.
The House and Senate began the process of appointing conferees to create a reconciliation transportation package the week of Nov. 9. On Nov. 5, the House voted to approve a transportation bill that included more than a thousand pages of amendments from the legislation the Senate approved in July.
Those amendments included a provision directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to re-establish a tire registration system in which independent tire dealers are solely responsible for registering tires at the point of sale. Tire dealers fought hard in the 1970s to end this mandate, and succeeded in the Surface Transportation Act of 1982.
“Under the 1970s-era rules, NHTSA demanded detailed registration information and levied hefty fines on independent dealers who had failed to comply,” wrote Roy Littlefield, TIA executive vice president, in the Nov. 9 issue of TIA's Weekly Legislative Update.
“The demands were onerous, and serious legal requirements became the responsibility of mechanics, tire installers, and gasoline station managers,” Littlefield wrote. “Yet compliance rates were low, and small businesses could not afford to pay the fines, which could reach as high as $700,000.”
While the provision in the House bill is vague, the language includes clear directions to tire dealers to turn over their customer lists to tire manufacturers, even when there is no recall. Tire dealers adamantly oppose this, according to Littlefield.
“We ask Congress to encourage tire manufacturers and dealers to come to a mutual agreement to improve recall performance, rather than pit the two sides against each other with controversial legislation and new regulatory burdens,” he wrote.
The Nov. 9 issue included a link to a petition which TIA asked members to sign. Launched through change.org, the petition urges the House-Senate conferees to discard the mandatory registration amendment, and lists the reasons for tire dealers' opposition.
“We received stacks of signatures from those who attended the GTE (Global Tire Expo) show in Las Vegas,” Littlefield wrote. “If you were unable to attend GTE and would still like to sign this petition, there is still time.”
Littlefield said TIA supports advanced technology to improve tire registration, including the addition of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips to tires to allow electronic scanning of tire information at the point of sale. Safety watchdog group Safety Research & Strategies Inc. has also endorsed the use of RFID chips, and agrees with TIA that a return to the former mandatory system would be both ineffective and unfairly punitive to independent dealers.
The current stopgap measure for transportation funding ends Nov. 20, meaning Congress must act before that date to ensure the continuation of transportation funds.