TIA Representatives Testify at NHTSA

Bowie, MD –  Representatives from the Tire Industry Association (TIA) testified yesterday before a packed hearing room at the U.S. Department of Transportation on the yet to be launched National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consumer education program on tire maintenance and safety.

Kevin Rohlwing, TIA Senior Vice President of Training and Roy Littlefield, TIA Executive Vice President discussed why TIA was the best fit to administer the program. They cited TIA’s extensive training program, TIA’s relationship with the industry and with the tire manufacturers, and the Association’s diverse and growing membership. 

In an impassioned testimony, Rohlwing asserted, “the success of the program depends on the participation of retailers and TIA has the best chance of reaching the tire sellers.” 

Littlefield’s testimony speculated that if TIA was not selected to administer the program, the results could be a repeat of the UTQGS program which was a great expense to tire manufacturers and had low consumer buy-in.

In addition to Rohlwing and Littlefield, former Congressman Al Wynn (D-MD) represented TIA and spoke to the history of the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, when he served the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was a sponsor of the bill.
When discussing language in the bill to promulgate rules establishing the National Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Education Program, Congressman Wynn commented, “The program was to include two components: 1) a labeling system for rating rolling resistance of various replacement tire models and 2) a national tire maintenance consumer education program including information on tire inflation pressure, alignment, rotation and tread wear to maximize fuel efficiency, safety and durability of replacement tires.”

Congressman Wynn went on to express concern that a program passed into law in 2007 has not been implemented seven years later. 

TIA representatives emphasized that regardless of the methodology used for the rating/labeling system, all evidence shows that a concise explanation of tire fuel efficiency, inflation, maintenance, etc. must occur at the point of sale to maximize the efficacy of the consumer education.  In its comments, TIA offered a detailed plan to work in a public private partnership with NHTSA to train employees of tire retailers to actively deliver a concise message on rolling resistance, fuel efficiency and tire maintenance. 

NHSTA 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 fears that the final product as currently designed will not deliver the desired outcomes in a real world setting.  The result is likely to be little real consumer education or behavioral change in terms of increased fuel efficiency despite a significant investment in time and public money.

TIA representatives will be meeting with NHTSA officials again on Wednesday, March 5 to review the first infographic that NHTSA has designed.