WASHINGTON—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is requesting public comment on whether to update the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for tires to address new technologies.
NHTSA is requesting comments specifically on the existing strength test, the bead unseating resistance test and the tire endurance test.
The agency also wants feedback on the current use and relevance of some tire marking regulations. In addition to considering updates for new technologies, NHTSA will seek to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.
Comments are due Feb. 18.
NHTSA's notice is in part a response to a letter the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association sent to the agency in 2017 urging it to rescind several "outdated, unnecessary or ineffective" regulations that have been on the books for decades.
In that letter, USTMA President and CEO Anne Forristall Luke outlined some issues the trade group thought should be addressed, including:
• The bead unseating test under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 109 and 139, which the USTMA calls "an outdated obsolete test method that does not provide a safety benefit for modern tires."
• The "plunger energy" tire strength test under 109 and 139, which the USTMA said was designed in the 1960s to test bias-ply and glass-belted tires, whereas tires today are radial and have steel belts.
• The 109/139 endurance test, which often results in unintended tread chunking that is neither a structural degradation of the tire nor a safety-related condition.
• Uniform Tire Quality Grading Standards, a 40-year-old rule that has several major shortcomings in its testing procedures and has never reached consumers with useful information.
• Sidewall marking requirements such as ply ratings and "Tubeless" and "Radial" designations, which are obsolete or redundant.
In addition, NHTSA—at the urging of Bridgestone Americas Inc.—seeks comment on how existing regulations can be revised to foster tire innovation without adversely affecting safety.
In its communication with NHTSA, Bridgestone asked the agency to consider comments on new and emerging tire technologies to reduce tire failures on ADS-equipped vehicles and on how pneumatic tire alternatives can be permitted as compliance options for both ADS-equipped vehicles and conventional vehicles.