Tire Aging Tests, Data and Policies Continue to Emerge

Presentations on tire aging at recent industry conferences indicate that the industry is beginning to accept what only several years ago it claimed was not possible-a scientific basis for tire expiration dates. Foundational to this acceptance is agreement from the tire makers, NHTSA, and Ford Motor Company that static oven aging in a lab can mimic thermo-oxidative aging found in tires removed from the field-an important step toward a regulatory performance standard. Other presentations have addressed specific tire components and properties that affect tire aging degradation. The unspoken message has been loud and clear: tire age matters and regulation appears inevitable.

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Automakers Agree to Add Brake to Shift Interlocks

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to fend off legislation, 19 of the largest automakers have voluntarily entered into an agreement with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to install brake-to-shift interlock (BTSI) systems. BTSI's require drivers to depress the brake pedal before shifting an automatic transmission out of Park. The feature gained many adherents in the late 1980s following a rise in sudden unintended acceleration events in late 1980s as a way to reduce driver error. The feature also helps to reduce incidents of inadvertent activation of the shift lever by children-a long-standing problem that can result in vehicle roll-away incidents and crashes.

Firestone and NHTSA Launch Consumer Alert for Recalled Wilderness Tires; SRS Had Urged NHTSA to Investigate

Nashville, Tenn. - Bridgestone-Firestone has announced that it will be notifying SUV owners, Firestone company stores and authorized dealers to look for and replace any Radial ATX and Wilderness ATs that were captured in the 2000 and 2001 recalls. The tire maker gave no reason for the consumer notification program, launched on July 21. But, it comes one month after Safety Research & Strategies publicly requested that NHTSA investigate why many recalled spares were left behind during the recalls. SRS pointed the agency to a spate of catastrophic rollover crashes attributed to tread separations in recalled spare tires and evidence that potentially hundreds of thousands of these tires were missed or overlooked during the recalls. NHTSA also issued a "Consumer Advisory" on the notification program that urged consumers to have their tires checked, particularly spares.

Persistent RV Tire Problems Prompt Fifth Recall; NHTSA Investigation Focuses New Attention on RV Safety

Washington, D.C. - Country Coach, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of Class A motor homes, has launched its fifth recall in seven years to replace the tires on some of its motor homes, blaming the Toyo tire company for outfitting its recreational vehicles with tires unable to carry their weight.

Country Coach, a Junction City, Oregon-based subsidiary of RV Holdings Inc. told NHTSA that Toyo's M102z models were responsible for more than 50 tire failures since 2003 - a charge that Toyo has strenuously denied. This most recent safety campaign underscores what appears to be an industry-wide problem: RV manufacturers under-rating the axle weight of their vehicles and outfitting them with tires that cannot bear the load, particularly in the left front. In the last several years, at least five manufacturers, including Fleetwood, Newmar, Airstream, Four Winds and National RV Inc., have initiated recalls involving more than a dozen motor home models with incorrect weight or tire pressure ratings.

SRS Petitions NHTSA to Examine Firestone ATX and Wilderness Tire Recalls and Owner Notification

June 21, 2006
Nicole Nason
Administrator
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
400 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20597

RE: Recalled Firestone ATX and Wilderness Tires

Dear Ms. Nason:

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