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To supplement the standards setting machinery of the bill, the committee bill directs the Secretary to require tires subject to standards to be prominently and conspicuously labeled with such safetyrelated information as he determines necessary to achieve the purposes of the act, together with such customary information as the size, the type of material, and the number of plies, all of which the Secretary could find requisite to the safety of the consumer. The Secretary is specifically directed to require suitable identification of the manufacturer and appropriate indication that the tires conform to Federal standards. This information may be contained in a mark or symbol and code acceptable to the Secretary.
The Secretary is also authorized to require that additional safety information be disclosed to the purchaser at the time of sale and, here, the committee had in mind, in particular, the load-carrying capacity of the tires and the type of cord material, as well as information as to the proper inflation pressure and use of the tires.
The committee knows of no consumer commodity more sharply characterized by confused and misleading nomenclature than the tire. Though no uniform grading system presently exists, the great majority of the private label marketers and domestic manufacturers market tires on the basis of an apparent grading system. Thus “premium," “first line," "second line," and "100 level,” imply that an objective grading system exists. Yet these designations today have no uniform fixed meaning or definitive value. One marketer's "premium" is the inferior of another's "third line" tireand a single manufacturer may market a tire under its own brand name as a "3d level" tire while his private label customer markets the same tire as a "first line" tire.
Tires are unlike many consumer items which are bought, rapidly consumed, and bought again. The tire consumer has little opportunity to sample and test for himself the quality of each of the multitude of brands marketed. Fortunately, he need not buy a new set of tires every week.
But while the manufacturers and marketers establish some individual grading system for their own lines, tire manufacturers insist that the uniform quality grading of tires is “impractical.”
Because the committee lacks the tochnical capacity to proclaim whether a quality grading system for tires is indood "practical,” we would direct the Secretary of Commerce, under the bill, to determine the feasibility of such a grading system and, if such a system is indeed feasible, to determine how such system can best be implemented. As the Department of Commerce develops expertise in the field of tire grading, the committee foels that it should work closely with both the Federal Trade Commission and industry in efforts to eliminato current deception and confusion in tiro nomenclature and marketing practices.
The Department of Commerce estimates that the cost of developing and enforcing standards under this bill would be as follows: $2,900,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1967, $1,450,000 for each of the fiscal years ending June 30, 1968 and 1969, and $1,600,000 for each of the fiscal years ending June 30, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974
The committee received the following comments on S. 2669 from departments and agencies concerned:
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE,
Washington, D.C., February 4, 1966. Hon. WARREN G. MAGNUSON, Chairman, Committee on Commerce, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in further reply to your request for the views of this Department with respect to S. 2669, a bill to establish safety standards for motor vehiclo tires sold or shipped in interstate commerce, and for other purposes.
This bill would require the Secretary of Commerce to establish the tire safety standards of the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission as interim mandatory standards, and to issue revised standards, if necessary, after 2 years based upon the research and development authorized by the bill. The Secretary would be authorized to conduct testing and inspection necessary for the enforcement of the act. The act authorizes enforcement either by seizure and condemnation of substandard tires or by injunction. The Secretary also would be directed to develop a uniform grading system for tires and to make recommendations to the Congress by January 31, 1971, for its implementation.
The Department of Commerce believes there is a need for appropriato legislation relating to tire standards. Subject to the comments below, we strongly favor enactment of S. 2669.
In the bearings on an earlier bill (S. 1643) on the subject of tire standards held by your committee on May 25, 1965, Assistant Secretary of Commerce J. Herbert Hollomon, in testifying for the Department, emphasized the need for research, as well as civil enforcement procedures, in an effective tire safety program. He also stated that the Department normally preferred the voluntary approach to standardization, but in this case would have no objection to discretionary authority in the Secretary of Commerce to issue mandatory standards, if the voluntary approach did not offer sufficient protection to the public.
S. 2669 includes provisions for research and civil enforcement, as the Department suggested. In addition, Section 3 requires interim mandatory standards and provides that the Secretary shall review and revise them to the extent necessary in light of the results of the research and testing program. We believe it would be preferable simply to provide discretionary authority to issue mandatory safety standards. However, we would defer to your committee as to the necessity for promulgating interim mandatory standards as provided in S. 2669.
In any event we recommend that amendments along the following lines be made in the bill.
Section 2(b) defines motor vehicle in a manner which excludes not only vehicles subject to regulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission, but also many other vehicles used on the highways, such
as light trucks and trailers. Accordingly, we suggest that section 2(b) be rewritten to read as follows:
"(b) The term 'motor vehicle' means any motor vehicle or drawn vehicle, primarily for use on the public roads and highways, other than a vehicle subject to safety regulations under part II of the Interstate Commerce Act.”
The above suggested language is similar to that used in Public Law 88–201, establishing seat belt safety standards and would exclude vehicles occasionally used on the highways, but primarily adapted for other uses, such as, for example, farm tractors or construction equipment.
Among the activities authorized by section 4(c) in support of improved safety standards is research and development on standards for retreaded tires. Developing a safety standard for retreaded tires is extremely difficult. There are unpredictable variations in carcasses used for retreading, and tests of small samples for data gathering purposes would be almost meaningless. We have estimated that a minimum of 4 years would be required to develop suitable tests. Assuming that a satisfactory test can be developed, the nature of tire remanufacturing could pose problems of enforcement under the provisions of the bill, and additional authority may well be needed to permit adequate enforcement.
Another suggestion we have relates to load standards for tires. Section 4(c)(4), which mentions factors to be considered in developing safety standards, could be construed together with section 4(b) to mean that load standards should be established for each type of expected use for tires. This would be a formidable task from both the technical and enforcement point of view. The Department believes that there should be a minimum safety requirement for load, considering all uses. Separate standards should not be required or permitted for a car traveling a few miles to and from work with only the driver, since such a car may at any time be used for severo service. A passenger car, for example, frequently has a full load of passengers and luggage and travels at maximum legal speed on interstate highways for prolonged periods. Furthermore, it is not practical to develop methods and to test tires for every possible road hazard as suggested by this section. Even safe tires may be cut or damaged accidentally or through abuse in ways that a standard cannot prevent. We recommend that section 4(b) be rewritten as follows:
“(b) In such revised minimum standards, the Secretary shall prescribe such maximum permissible loads for each motor vehicle tire, and the application of such maximum permissible load standards, as he determines to be necessary to achieve the purpose of section 3.”
We further recommend that section 4(c)(4) be rewritten as follows:
“(4) Shall take into consideration such factors as size, load carrying ability under the conditions likely to be encountered in regular highway travel, resistance to impact and fatigue, resistance to cornering and skidding, resistance to detachment from rim, and such other factors as he deems relevant."
As rewritten, section 4(c)(4) would permit the consideration of factors such as the characteristics of tires in their interaction with road surfaces.
We note that while S. 1643 refers to labeling standards as well as safety and grading standards, S. 2669 does not expressly require labeling. We assume that there is no intent in S. 2669 to restrict authority to require reasonable labeling as part of establishing safety standards, since the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission Regulation V-1 on tire safety includes certain labeling requirements. We feel that reasonable labeling requirements would include information such as the name of the manufacturer or distributor, tire size, load rating, and inflation pressure.
Finally, the enforcement provisions of the bill are not entirely clear. It appears that condemnation proceedings could be brought by private parties, and that substandard tires could be condemned while in the hands of the ultimate user. We question whether either of these would be desirable or practical.
In summary, we feel that enactment of S. 2669, subject to our comments, above, would contribute importantly to the traffic safety program which President Johnson called for in this year's state of the Union message.
We have been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of this report to your committee and further that the enactment of legislation along the lines of S. 2669 would be consistent with the administration's objectives. Sincerely,
ROBERT E. GILES, General Counsel.
THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE,
Washington, D.C., Janaury 28, 1966. Hon. WARREN G. MAGNUSON, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR MAGNUSON: As requested in your letter of De cember 22, 1965, the National Bureau of Standards has studied Revision No. 1 of the Standards for New Passenger Car Tires published by Rubber Manufacturers Association.
"In their study, they have compared this revision with the original standards of the association and also, to be of maximum assistance, with regulation V-1 of the Vehicle Equipment Safety Commision (for new tires for passenger cars and station wagons) and with Federal Specification ZZ-T-00381j (for pneumatic tires).
The analysis and comments of the NBS are attached. I should point out that their analysis is very much handicapped by the lack of adequate and meaningful test data that would permit à rigorous evaluation of the standards. My preliminary views concerning the importance of a sound technological base for tire standards were presented to the Senate Commerce Committee on May 25, 1965. Sincerely yours,
J. HERBERT HOLLOMON.
STANDARDS FOR New PassENGER Car TIRES Comparing: (a) Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) standards, (6) Revision No. 1 of RMA standards,
includes aly 1 sizes in 33 sized
(c) Vehicle Equipment Safety Commission (VESC), regulation
V-1, and (d) Federal Specification ZZ-T-00381j. General
A comparison has been complicated by (1) the increase in load ratings in the 1965-66 Yearbook of the Tire & Rim Association (TRA) upon which the revised RMA standards are based, and (2) the revised standards include requirements for 8 ply-rated tires in 33 sizes, whereas the previous standards included only 1 size of the 8-ply tires and the Federal specification includes none. (The 8-ply tire is a new tire replacing the old 6-ply tire.)
The attached table of comparison, accordingly, is restricted to tires rated as 4 ply. Comments
Endurance test.—The revised RMA standards provide for higher test load than the original standard, but this test is not as severe as that specified in either the Federal specification or in VESC regulation V-1, since no cuts are placed in the grooves. Inasmuch as the revised RMA standards are based on the increased TRA load ratings, there is a reduction in the safety factor under the RMA test. The maximum test load is approximately the same as the maximum load permitted at 32-pounds-per-square-inch inflation in the 1965–66 TRA Yearbook.
Cut growth.—Neither the original nor the revised RMA standards include the cut-growth test which is included in both the Federal specification and VESC regulation V-1. (RMA does not consider this test important; however, the requirement is considered useful in eliminating tires that tend to lose their treads on portions of them.)
Breaking energy.—Under the revised RMA standards the requirements have been increased and now are the same as those set forth in VESC regulation V-1. (These requirements still are quite low when considered in light of modern knowledge of tire construction as this is related to safety.)
High-speed test.-In the revised RMA standards, the load at 24 pounds per square inch tire pressure has been increased. Values also are given for inflation pressures up to 32 pounds. (Since the high-speed test is designed for high-speed driving under loaded conditions, it is considered that the load specified at 32 pounds pressure would be more appropriate.) (This requirement is not found in the Federal specification. Current information indicates that this test has little merit.)
Bead unseating.–The revised RMA standards include the same test as does VESC regulation V-1. (No information is available as to merit of this test.)
Size. Section width has been replaced in the revised RMA standards with a requirement for size factor that is the sum of overall diameter plus section width. (The confusion about tire size remains. For example, the minimum size factor for a 9.00 by 15 tire is 37.45 inches, whereas the minimum size for an 8.20 by 15 tire is 37.50 inches. Similarly, the value for an 8.45 by 15 tire is 36.37 inches, while that for an 8.00 by 15 tire is 36.46 inches.)