Sale of “unsafe” used tires in N.J. set to attract fine

Unsafe used tire bill progresses in N.J.

A law that prohibits the sale of potentially deadly used tires is a step closer to becoming a reality in New Jersey, after a bill was unanimously passed in its Assembly.

The legislation is intended to protect N.J. motorists and the public by preventing auto accidents caused by used tires. It has now progressed to the N.J. Senate.

The bill would impose a $500 fine for a first offense on any business that sells a tire exhibiting any one of several unsafe conditions such as worn-out tread, visible damage or improper repairs. Subsequent violations may be enforced under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

RMA wants tighter controls on unsafe used tires

The move has been supported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), which has long advocated for tightened controls on unsafe used tires to reduce the risk of auto accidents attributed to tire issues.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that worn-out tires are three times more likely to be involved in a crash than tires with sufficient tread depth. Its crash statistics show nearly 200 fatalities and 6,000 injuries can be attributed to tire-related causes every year.

According to the RMA, more than 30 million used tires are available for sale across the U.S. every year; however, RMA president and CEO Anne Forristall Luke was quick to point out that legislation did not ban all used tire sales. It targets used tires that have specific, well-established, unsafe conditions.

“This is a commonsense, pro-safety, pro-consumer bill,” she said. “Preventing these unsafe used tires from operating on New Jersey roads will reduce the risk of crashes and save lives. It’s that simple.”

A state, not a federal, issue

Used tires are not regulated at the federal level — only new tires are regulated federally — so the RMA has approached unsafe used tire legislation as a “state-by-state issue,” supporting state lawmakers who try to introduce relevant bills.

Colorado is the only state that has passed an unsafe used tire law; it was passed in 2014. Currently, Ohio has unsafe used tire legislation pending. Attempts to pass legislation in Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas have not come to fruition, although some lawmakers in South Carolina, where the bill failed to pass the state Senate in May, say they will try again in 2017.

Tires worn to 1/16th of an inch are considered worn-out and are dangerous because they no longer provide sufficient grip on the road, particularly under wet conditions. Tires with damage exposing steel belts or other internal components threaten a tire’s structural integrity. Improperly repaired tires can suffer loss of inflation pressure or have hidden damage that may contribute to tire failure. Tires with bulges indicate possible internal damage that can lead to tread separation.

“Think about it: Tires are the last protective equipment between you and the road,” Forristall Luke said. “It’s vital to make sure they’re properly maintained and good quality.”

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