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Feds delay tire-monitoring requirements

The Bush administration is putting the brakes on efforts to mandate the use of tire pressure monitoring systems for passenger cars and light trucks – which may also delay a similar effort aimed at the trucking industry. The Washington Post reports that John Graham, administrator of regulatory affairs for the Office of Management and Budget, has ordered NHTSA to review tire pressure monitoring rules laid out in the Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability Documentation (TREAD) Act. Congress passed TREAD in November in the wake of a tire separation investigation involving Firestone and Ford. The act mandates tire-pressure warning devices on all passenger cars, light trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans sold in the U.S. after 2003. It would affect 16 million new vehicles in the United States each year and result in an estimated $1 billion annual market for tire-monitoring systems. In statements yesterday, Graham said the tire pressure rule is "too narrow" and could discourage the use of antilock braking systems. Graham's ruling also gives some breathing space to truckers, covered in Section 13 of TREAD. The act requires medium- and heavy-duty commercial trucks and trailers to have a warning system to warn drivers of low tire pressure. NHTSA is required under the act to have a final rule in effect two years after it begins the rulemaking process, but Graham's regulatory review ruling may significantly delay that process.

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