automobile tires

NHTSA Survey to Assess Tire Pressure Monitoring Rule

Drivers of more than 10,000 vehicles will be asked about tire pressure, and the tires themselves will be checked to see whether the Tire Pressure Monitoring System regulation is effective.

The 2008 model year was the first in which all new light vehicles (passenger cars, trucks, multipurpose passenger vehicles, and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, except vehicles with dual wheels on an axle) were equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS). Required by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 138, they warn drivers when the pressure in one or more of the vehicle's tires falls 25 percent or more below the manufacturer's recommended pressure. But there has been no evaluation thus far of TPMS, and now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will conduct one.

Vehicle tire pressure was addressed in the TREAD Act, a law passed in 2000 that directed NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis to study tire pressure in early 2001. The study showed 26 percent of the cars and 29 percent of light truck vehicles had at least one tire more than 25 percent below the recommended pressure, as specified on the placard located on the inside of the driver's side door.

The new assessment will be a survey conducted through the infrastructure of the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System, which is based on the number of fatal and injury motor vehicle accidents in a sample of the country. Within each of 24 zones, three gas stations with more than one gas island) will be selected from each of seven randomly eligible ZIP codes. Vehicles in the 2004 model year and newer that ar e equipped with TPMS systems and vehicles without them will be included; vehicle profile data, tire data, and driver profile data for at least 10,000 passenger vehicles and supplemental data on TPMS use for 600 of these vehicles will be gathered. For an additional 450 passenger vehicles, supplemental data on TPMS use will be collected from the driver via a survey form; an online form, or a phone interview.

Underinflated tires increase the risk of skidding, hydroplaning, longer stopping distances, and crashes from flat tires and blowouts, NHTSA says.

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