Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby! The Pneumatic Tire

Have you heard the one about The Pneumatic Tire? If you’re involved in tire litigation, the defense may have waved this august tome in front of a judge claiming that it is the Tire Bible handed down from on high by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, itself.

And this would be somewhat true. In 2005 NHTSA did contract J.D. Walter and Alan Gent of the University of Akron to act as assembling editors for a low-budget update of the 1981 edition of the Mechanics of Pneumatic Tires. With a total project cost of $89,575, Walter and Gent recruited top-level executives in the tire industry – including the good folks at Cooper Tire—to serve as authors and members of the editorial board.  The work was to have been thoroughly vetted at the agency, but according to several sources, NHTSA passed a very light hand over the project and the final version consisted of a wholesale borrowing from the original, complete with decades old data, with some new chapters added to reflect technological advances.

The book was offered for sale in 2006 and although this was a NHTSA project, you couldn’t get it from the agency. A Google search of The Pneumatic Tire would direct customers, via numerous links to the version sold by the American Chemical Society’s Rubber Division, based at the University of Akron, where the public can download the book for 10 bucks. The government, through the National Technical Information Service, also sells a download – for $55. (This rather over-priced vendor is MIA in a casual search.)

But maybe the ACS Rubber Division’s version of The Pneumatic Tire was so much cheaper because it was missing a page. That would be the one after the title page that bears a disclaimer separating the views expressed in the book from those of the agency:

"This publication is distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the interest of information exchange. The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Department of Transportation or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The United States Government assumes no liability for its content or use thereof if trade or manufacturer's names or products are mentioned, it is because they are considered essential to the object of the publication and should not be construed as an endorsement. The United States Government does not endorse products or manufacturers."

Safety Research & Strategies has questioned why any private group is charging to disseminate a taxpayer-funded report. And SRS has contacted NHTSA’s Chief Counsel  urging them to compel the ACS to put the disclaimer back in. (SRS Letter to NHTSA)

While NHTSA contemplates correcting this key omission, SRS, as a service to our loyal readers, is making the complete version available. So, hurry! While supplies last! The one; the only; the original: The Pneumatic Tire! To receive your e-free copy of DOT HS DOT HS 810 561, click here.

For ACS' version of The Pneumatic Tire click here.

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