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TIA wants overhaul of tire recall laws

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The TIA believes electronic systems are the best way to improve tire recalls

TIA wants overhaul of tire recall laws

The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is calling for an electronic identification system to help improve the efficiency of tire recalls in the U.S.

The TIA made its comments in response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) request for public comment on how it could improve notifying consumers in the event of tire recalls and improve customers’ response. So what does that involve?

The TIA proposes electronic “TIN to VIN” system

The TIA is advocating a “TIN to VIN” system, requiring tire manufacturers to include electronic tire identification numbers (TIN) on every tire, so retailers could easily and accurately scan each one that is sold.

“The TINs could then be automatically recorded in a database and human error dramatically reduced,” the TIA said in its comments. “If the TIN was permanently linked to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and therefore, the most current registered owner, it will be much easier to notify the owners of defective tires even after address or title changes.”

The TIA said its proposed electronic system would ensure data was collected and stored by a single third party to “eliminate concerns about personal privacy.” It would also prevent manufacturers from using registration for direct marketing purposes.

The TIA has also voiced its support for reinstating annual vehicle inspection programs in every state, saying if motor vehicles were required to pass an annual inspection, the inspector could scan the electronic identification and immediately determine if any of the tires on the vehicle or the spare were subject to recall.

So what is the NHTSA doing?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking for ways to improve the success rate of tire recalls. It has issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and request for public comment on “Updating Means of Providing Notification [to consumers] and Improving Efficacy of Recalls.”

The NHTSA’s notice acknowledges that a lot has changed in the way manufacturers communicate with their customers since the 1970s, when U.S. law first required them to notify owners in the event of a safety recall.

In an age of email, text messages and social media, the NHTSA said contacting customers by First-Class Mail (which is the current requirement) “does not inform as to whether an owner actually received the mail, let alone whether they read it and understood it.” Consequently the NHTSA is looking at what methods should be required of manufacturers, as well as viable alternatives in the event not enough customers respond to a recall campaign.

“This is all in an effort to leverage the new authorities NHTSA has been given to most efficiently and effectively improve safety recall completion rates,” the NHTSA said.

TIA accepts mandatory tire registration

The TIA had previously stated its opposition to mandatory tire registration, claiming tire dealers across the U.S. would face huge fines, crippling red tape and a tougher business climate if it were implemented, although now it appears to have accepted it as inevitable.

“Although the Association remains disappointed that the political system enabled mandatory tire registration to become law at some point in the future, we are totally focused on making sure the emphasis stays on recall recovery,” said TIA executive vice president Roy Littlefield.

“While we recognize that tire registration is important, the primary goal must be to remove defective tires from the highway. TIA is confident that electronic identification is the first step towards that goal.”

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