The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a new federal motor vehicle safety standard requiring the installation of tire pressure monitoring systems in passenger cars, light trucks and other vehicles with GVW ratings of 10,000 pounds or less. The question now is whether this standard will eventually be applied to heavier vehicles, including tractor-trailers.
While the rulemaking is limited to vehicles under 10,000 pounds GVW, legislation passed last year by Congress mandates that a similar system be developed for heavier vehicles. Section 13 of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation (TREAD) Act, passed last November, requires that medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks and trailers to have a system installed that warns drivers of ‘significant’ low tire pressure. NHTSA is required under the act to have a final rule in effect two years after it begins the rulemaking process.
NHTSA’s notice seeks comment on two alternative versions of the regulation. One rule would require a warning when the pressure in one or more tires (up to a total of four) has fallen 20% or more below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation level. The other alternative would require a warning when tire pressure in one or more tires (up to a total of three) has fallen 25% or more below the vehicle manufacturer's recommended cold inflation level.
NHTSA estimates that between 49 and 79 deaths and 6,585 to 10,635 injuries could be prevented each year if all vehicles were equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems. For the next 45 days, the public may submit comments in writing to: Docket Section, NHTSA, 400 Seventh Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20590. Comments can also be submitted electronically.