Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Tires

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 244 (Thursday, December 19, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 244 (Thursday, December 19, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 69698-69707]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-27209]
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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
49 CFR Part 571
[Docket No. NHTSA-2019-0011]
RIN 2127-AL96
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Tires
AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA),
Department of Transportation (DOT).
ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM).
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SUMMARY: NHTSA is issuing this ANPRM to seek comment on provisions
contained in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for tires.
NHTSA is reviewing existing regulations to determine if updates are
necessary to keep pace with new technology. This notice focuses on
tire-related comments received to the DOT's regulatory review and
request for public comment notice issued on October 2, 2017. NHTSA
seeks comment on matters related to the existing strength test, the
bead unseating resistance test, and the tire endurance test. Lastly,
the agency seeks comment on the current use and relevance of some tire
marking regulations and other matters related to new tire technologies.
Comments to this notice will inform NHTSA as it considers regulatory
reform aimed at reducing regulatory burden while maintaining existing
safety levels for motor vehicle tires.
DATES: Comments must be received no later than February 18, 2020. See
Public Participation heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section
of this document for more information about written comments.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments electronically to the docket
identified in the heading of this document by visiting the following
website:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting
comments.
    Alternatively, you can file comments using the following methods:
     Mail: Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor,
Room W12-140, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: West Building Ground Floor, Room
W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET,
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: (202) 493-2251.
    Regardless of how you submit your comments, you should mention the
docket number identified in the heading of this document.
    Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments and
additional information on the rulemaking process, see the Public
Participation heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this
document. Note that all comments received will be posted without change
to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information
provided. Please see the Privacy Act heading below.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all
comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78) or at http://www.transportation.gov/privacy.
    Confidential Information: If you wish to submit any information
under a claim of confidentiality, you should submit three copies of
your complete submission, including the information you claim to be
confidential business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, at the
address given below under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. In addition,
you should submit two copies, from which you have deleted the claimed
confidential business information, to Docket Management at the address
given above under ADDRESSES. When you send a comment containing
information claimed to be confidential business information, you should
include a cover letter setting forth the information specified in the
confidential business information regulation. (49 CFR part 512.)
    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or
comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online
instructions for accessing the dockets.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please contact, Jesus Valentin-Ruiz,
Office of Crash Avoidance Standards, telephone 202-366-1810, or David
Jasinski, Office of the Chief Counsel, telephone 202-366-2992. You may
send mail to both of these officials at the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590
or fax to 202-493-0073.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Table of Contents
I. Introduction
II. Background
III. Considerations Regarding Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
for Tires
    a. Tire Strength Test
    b. Tire Bead Unseated Test
    c. Tire Endurance
    d. Tire Markings
    e. Other Tire-Related Issues
IV. Additional Questions
V. Public Participation
VI. Rulemaking Notice and Analyses
I. Introduction
    On October 2, 2017, DOT issued a Federal Register notice requesting
public comment on existing rules and other agency actions that are
candidates for repeal, replacement, suspension, or modification (82 FR
45750). This public input was aimed to inform DOT's review of its
existing regulations and other agency actions to evaluate their
continued necessity, determine whether they are crafted effectively to
solve current safety issues, and evaluate whether they potentially
burden the development or use of domestically produced energy
resources. DOT received almost 3,000 comments in response to this
notice, of which approximately twenty-three addressed
[[Page 69699]]
rules and agency actions under the scope of NHTSA. The agency is
publishing a series of advance notices of proposed rulemaking (ANPRMs)
on various topics derived from input submitted by stakeholders in
response to the DOT notice and NHTSA's own regulatory review. This
ANPRM discusses requirements and test procedures for tires that may be
candidates for repeal, replacement, suspension or modification.
    As part of its mission, NHTSA issues Federal Motor Vehicle Safety
Standards (FMVSSs) and regulations for new vehicles and motor vehicle
equipment to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs
due to road traffic crashes. NHTSA also reviews and revises existing
standards and regulations to respond to, for example, the introduction
of new technology in motor vehicles. In 2017, section 2(a) of Executive
Order (E.O.) 13771, Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory
Costs, establishes that unless prohibited by law, whenever an agency
publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new
regulation, it must identify at least two existing regulations to be
repealed. Also, according to E.O. 13777, Enforcing the Regulatory
Reform Agenda, each agency must evaluate existing regulations, and make
recommendations for their repeal, replacement, or modification. As part
of this process, the Department is directed to seek input from entities
significantly affected by its regulations. In response to the October
2, 2017 notice, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) \1\
identified tire-related regulations that, in its view, are outdated,
unnecessary, or ineffective. USTMA stated that the regulations
identified present an opportunity to lower regulatory burdens on tire
manufacturers and increase regulatory effectiveness by eliminating
regulations that do not reflect current technology and removing
requirements where compliance costs exceed benefits. Topics identified
include: (1) Tire strength (plunger energy) tests in FMVSSs No. 109,
119, and 139; (2) bead unseating resistance tests in FMVSS Nos. 109 and
139; (3) the tire endurance test in FMVSS No. 139; (4) the Uniform Tire
Quality Grading Standards (UTQGS) in 49 CFR 575.104; and (5) tire
markings for ply rating, tubeless, and radial in FMVSS No. 139.
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    \1\ USTMA, formerly Rubber Manufactures Association (RMA),
represents tire manufacturers with operations in the United States.
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    USTMA mentioned that each of the regulations identified do not
appropriately address how tire technologies have changed since the
regulations' inception. Continental Automotive Systems, Inc.
(Continental), a member of USTMA, agreed with the comments, with
emphasis on the elimination of the tire strength test in FMVSS Nos. 109
and 139. Comments received on the UTQGS, along with other consumer
information topics are not the focus of this ANPRM and may be addressed
in a separate rulemaking.\2\
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    \2\ RIN 2127-AK76.
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    NHTSA seeks focused comment on issues and possible modifications to
the strength test and bead unseating resistance test for modern tires.
NHTSA also seeks comment on the certain aspects of the tire endurance
test. Lastly, the agency seeks comment on the current use and relevance
of some tire marking regulations as well as other matters related to
new tire technologies. Safety standards for tire rims (FMVSSs No. 110
and 120) and tire pressure monitoring systems (FMVSS No. 138) are not
the focus of this notice. Similarly, issues related to previously
proposed upgrades to FMVSS No. 119, are not the focus of this
notice.\3\
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    \3\ RIN 2127-AK17.
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II. Background
a. NHTSA's Prior Efforts To Improve Tire Safety Standards
    In 2000, a surge in tire tread separation failures prompted
Congress to enact the Transportation Recall Enhancement,
Accountability, and Documentation Act (TREAD) Act.\4\ Section 10 of the
TREAD Act, ``Endurance and resistance standards for tires'', required
NHTSA to revise and update FMVSS No. 109--New Pneumatic Tires \5\ and
FMVSS No. 119--New Pneumatic Tires for Vehicles Other than Passenger
Cars.\6\ NHTSA made several improvements and established a new safety
standard, FMVSS No. 139, New pneumatic radial tires for light
vehicles.\7\ FMVSS No. 139 applies to new pneumatic radial tires for
use on motor vehicles (other than motorcycle and low speed vehicles)
that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or
less.\8\ It adopted more stringent high speed and endurance tests as
well as a new low-pressure performance test. The objective was to
improve the ability of tires to endure the effects of tire heat
building-up and severe under-inflation during highway travel under
fully loaded conditions. In a petition for reconsideration to the final
rule establishing FMVSS No. 139, manufacturers requested that NHTSA
either redefine ``chunking'' or not consider ``chunking'' to be an
indication of tire failure during the endurance test.\9\ The agency
decided against eliminating ``chunking'' as a test failure
condition.\10\
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    \4\ Public Law 106-414, November 1, 2000, 114 Stat. 1800.
    \5\ 49 CFR 571.109.
    \6\ 49 CFR 571.119.
    \7\ 68 FR 38115 (Jun. 26, 2003).
    \8\ 49 CFR 571.139.
    \9\ Chunking means the breaking away of pieces of the tread or
sidewall. 49 CFR 571.139, S3.
    \10\ 71 FR 877 (Jan. 6, 2006).
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    As part of the improvements to the tire safety standards following
the TREAD Act, NHTSA proposed to replace the strength test in FMVSS No.
109 with a road hazard impact test, modeled after a Society of
Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommended practice. The agency also
proposed to replace the bead unseating test in FMVSS No. 109 with a new
test used by Toyota.\11\ The construction characteristics of a radial
tire, relative to a bias-ply tire, are what make the tests appear to be
ineffective in differentiating among modern tires with respect to these
aspects of performance. However, after further consideration and public
comments, NHTSA deferred action on proposals to revise the existing
strength test and bead unseating resistance test because additional
research was needed to inform a decision.
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    \11\ 67 FR 10050 (Mar. 5, 2002).
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    Since then, both industry and NHTSA have examined the strength test
and bead unseating test, by conducting additional research and updating
relevant industry standards.\12\ \13\
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    \12\ Harris, J.R., Evans, L.R., & MacIsaac Jr., J.D. (July
2013). Evaluation of laboratory tire tread and sidewall strength
plunger test methods. (Report No. DOT-HS-811-797). Washington, DC:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
    \13\ Harris, J.R., Evans, L.R., & MacIsaac Jr., J.D. (April
2013). Laboratory tire bead unseating: Evaluation of new equipment,
pressures, and ``A'' dimension from ASTM F-2663-07as. (Report No.
DOT-HS-811-735). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration.
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b. Tire Trends
    FMVSS for tires were first established in 1967. At the time, the
typical light-vehicle tire was a bias-ply tire, had a 78 to 85 percent
aspect ratio,\14\ and was mounted on a wheel with a 14- to 15-inch
diameter (rim codes 14 or 15).\15\ Bias tires have body ply cords that
are laid at alternate angles, substantially less than 90 degrees to the
tread centerline, extending from bead to bead. As the tire deflects,
shear occurs
[[Page 69700]]
between body plies which generates heat.
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    \14\ Aspect ratio refers to a two-digit number that gives the
tire's ratio of height to width.
    \15\ SAEJ918b_1966, Passenger Car Tire Performance Requirements
and Test Procedures. Available at www.sae.org.
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    Currently, most tires sold in the United States are radial tires.
In contrast to bias-ply tires, radial tires have body ply cords that
are laid radially at 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread,
extending from bead to bead. Because the opposite ends of each cord are
anchored to the beads at points that are directly opposite to each
other, the radial tire carcass is more flexible. The radial tire is
reinforced and stabilized by a belt that runs circumferentially around
the tire under the tread. This construction allows the sidewalls to act
independently of the belt and tread area when forces are applied to the
tire. This independent action is what allows the sidewalls to readily
absorb road irregularities without overstressing the cords. Research
has shown that impact breaks caused by cord rupture are less likely to
occur in radial-ply passenger car tires.\16\ Radial body cords deflect
more easily under load, generating less heat. Currently, passenger car
tires have reached aspect ratios as low as 20, and rim codes as large
as 32.
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    \16\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 12.
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    Changes in tire technology, including tire construction and rim
diameter codes ratios, have prompted NHTSA to consider updating the
existing requirements and test procedures in FMVSS for modern tires.
This ANPRM seeks comment and supporting information about tire-related
regulations or provisions within the regulations which may be a
candidate for repeal, replacement, suspension or modification.
III. Considerations Regarding Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
for Tires
a. Tire Strength Test
    NHTSA introduced the tire strength test, also known as ``plunger
energy,'' as part of FMVSS No. 109 in 1967.\17\ The test is used to
evaluate the strength of tire materials. The tire is mounted on a test
rim and inflated to the specified pressure. The tire is conditioned at
room temperature for at least three hours and its pressure readjusted
as specified. Then, a steel plunger with a rounded end is used to
contact the tire at the tread centerline. The plunger is advanced into
the tire, at a rate of 50 mm per minute until a certain force (energy
level) is reached or the tire is punctured. The tire strength test
specifies a minimum energy that must be attained without the tire
breaking. However, if the plunger is stopped by reaching the rim prior
to attaining the minimum breaking energy (bottoming out) without
breaking the tire, the breaking energy of the tire is calculated using
the force at the time the tire bottoms out. If the minimum breaking
energy is not reached, the tire fails the test.
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    \17\ 32 FR 15792 (Nov. 16, 1967).
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    The performance requirements for tire strength are included in
FMVSS No. 109 S4.2.2.4, FMVSS No. 117 S5.1.1(d), FMVSS No. 119 S7.3 and
FMVSS No. 139 S6.5.1 and S6.5.2 for LT tires. FMVSS No. 109, New
pneumatic tires and certain specialty tires, applies to bias-ply tires
used on light vehicles and radial tires for use on passenger cars
manufactured before 1975. FMVSS No. 117, Retreaded pneumatic tires,
applies to retreaded tires for use on passenger cars manufactured after
1948. FMVSS No. 119, applies to new pneumatic tires of motor vehicles
with a GVWR of more than 4,536 kilograms and motorcycles. FMVSS No.
139, New pneumatic radial tires for light vehicles, applies to new
radial tires used on light vehicles manufactured after 1975.
    In a 2002 notice of proposed rulemaking, NHTSA reported that when
conducting the strength test, the plunger often bottoms-out on the rim
rather than breaking the reinforced materials in a radial tire. The
issue seems to be more prevalent on radial tires with low aspect ratio
(low-profile); these tires have less available section height for the
plunger to travel to generate the required minimum breaking energy. The
agency explained that radial tires have flexible sidewalls that absorb
deflections and have high-strength belt packages. At the time, NHTSA
proposed replacing the existing strength test with a new test modeled
after SAE J1981, Road Hazard Impact for Wheel and Tire Assemblies.\18\
However, the agency deferred action on the proposal to revise the test
because tests on 4 of the 20 tires subject to the SAE J1981 test
resulted in the test device damaging the rim without air loss or damage
to the tire.\19\ Public comments also questioned whether the proposed
test was more stringent and correlated well with field performance.
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    \18\ 67 FR 10050 (Mar. 5, 2002). See also SAE J1981_200205, Road
Hazard Impact for Wheel and Tire Assemblies (Passenger Car, Light
Truck, and Multipurpose Vehicles). Available at www.sae.org.
    \19\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 12.
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    On July 12, 2011, USTMA submitted a petition for rulemaking
requesting NHTSA update existing requirements related to tire strength
testing.\20\ In its petition, USTMA stated that when testing radial
passenger tires with low aspect ratios, the plunger strikes the inside
of the wheel well before reaching the minimum force required to pass
the existing tire strength test. NHTSA test procedure (TP-109)
indicates that: ``If any plunger application contacts the test rim
before the minimum specified breaking energy is reached, the tire shall
be put on a different rim that has more clearance in the test area, and
the test repeated.\21\ Tires are tested using any rim that is listed as
appropriate for use with that tire according to the year books listed
in the tire standards or by notification to NHTSA in accordance with
FMVSS No. 139 S4.1 (or other similar provision for other tire
standards).
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    \20\ Docket No. NHTSA-2011-0002-0005.
    \21\ https://www.nhtsa.gov/document/tp-109-09pdf.
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    In its petition, USTMA stated that, when using specially fabricated
rims with deeper wells used solely for testing, the plunger may still
bottom out on the rim; however, the tires would achieve the minimum
strength requirement. USTMA included with its petition a table with
strength test results for 20 tires tested using standard rims and
specially fabricated deep well rims. The table includes data for tire
rim codes 17 to 20, width 215 to 275, and aspect ratios 35 to 50. USTMA
stated that there is a need to provide a more practical test procedure
for low aspect ratio tires. To address its concerns, USTMA suggested
that NHTSA adopt a test procedure for testing low-profile tires used in
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F414-09, ``Standard
Test Method for Energy Absorbed by a Tire When Deformed by Slow-Moving
Plunger.'' When the plunger bottoms out on the rim without puncturing
the tire, ASTM F414-09 specifies that the required minimum breaking
energy is deemed to have been achieved.\22\ USTMA stated that this
modification would eliminate the need to use deep-well rims for
testing.
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    \22\ Current version, F414-15, also contains this provision.
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    In response to the October 2, 2017 notice, USTMA asked that the
tire strength test in FMVSS Nos. 109, 119, and 139 be eliminated.\23\
Although USTMA acknowledged its petition for rulemaking requesting
modification of the tire strength requirement, it stated that the
complete elimination of the strength requirement would reduce the
regulatory burden on manufacturers without impacting tire safety or
performance. USTMA also stated that eliminating the strength
requirement would eliminate costs to NHTSA associated with auditing for
compliance.
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    \23\ Docket No. DOT-OST-2017-0069-2842.
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    NHTSA examined the laboratory tire tread and sidewall strength test
[[Page 69701]]
procedures.\24\ The study determined what percentage of tires tested to
the applicable FMVSS No. 109 or FMVSS No. 119 experienced plunger
bottom-out without reaching the minimum specified breaking energy. All
12 tires tested reached the FMVSSs minimum breaking energy level before
bottoming (67%) or rupturing (33%).\25\ NHTSA also evaluated ways to
modify the FMVSS strength test to avoid plunger bottom-out. Nine
passenger car tires were evaluated with the then-draft version of the
ASTM F414-06. The ASTM F414-06 included a clause that if a bottom-out
occurred, the tire could be considered as passing any standard; or the
tire could continue to be retested at incremental higher inflation
pressures until rupture or bottom-out occurred at the maximum allowable
pressure. The six tires tested to ASTM F414-06 also reached the FMVSS
minimum breaking energy before either bottoming-out (66.6%) or
rupturing (16.6%). When increasingly higher inflation pressure was
used, four of those six tires transition from bottoming-out to
rupturing. Lastly, six passenger tire models were tested using an
experimental sidewall bruise/strength test and generated statistically
different levels of bruise width, penetration, and rupture force
between 1-ply, 2-ply, and 3-ply sidewall tires. The results suggested
that plunger penetration and breaking force were significantly
influenced by the number of plies in the tire sidewall.
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    \24\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 12.
    \25\ Ibid.
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    NHTSA seeks comment on whether a change to or elimination of the
tire strength test is appropriate. Based on the test results submitted
by USTMA, some low-profile passenger car tires may not comply with the
existing strength requirement. NHTSA currently does not have data to
indicate a greater safety concern related to low-profile tires that may
not meet the minimum strength requirement because they bottom out on
the test rim prior to reaching the minimum strength requirement.
    NHTSA also requests comment about modifying the tire strength test
to accommodate low-profile tires. NHTSA seeks comments on these
amendments where the tire strength test could be modified. First, NHTSA
could allow testing with specially manufactured deep-well test rims.
These rims would be like those used by USTMA in its testing of low-
profile tires. The test results submitted by USTMA indicate that all
tires they tested would meet the minimum tire strength requirement when
tested with specially manufactured deep-well test rims. As the tire
strength test procedure is currently written, tires are tested when
mounted on rims meeting dimensional specifications set forth by tire
manufacturers. These specifications may be submitted directly to NHTSA
or those contained in publications of the following tire standards
organizations including the Tire and Rim Association (TRA); the
European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization (ETRTO); Japan Automobile
Tire Manufacturers' Association, Inc. (JATMA); Tyre & Rim Association
of Australia (TRAA); Associacao Latino Americana de Pneus e Aros
(Brazil) (ALAPA); and South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). To test
with specialized deep well rims, those rims would have to be specified
by the tire manufacturer as suitable for use with the tire and either
submitted to NHTSA or published by one of those standards
organizations. NHTSA would then need to acquire those specialized rims
to conduct its testing.
    Second, NHTSA requests comment on the need and feasibility to set a
different minimum breaking energy requirement to apply to low-profile
radial tires. It is possible that a performance value could be derived
from knowledge of the impact forces exerted on a tire when driven over
a road hazard. However, NHTSA currently has no data to consider. In
addition, the issue of what tires would be considered ``low profile''
and subject to a different minimum breaking energy would have to be
addressed.
    Third, NHTSA seeks comment on the idea of deeming tires that have
bottomed out on the test rim to have met the minimum breaking energy
requirement.\26\ This is consistent with USTMA's suggestion that NHTSA
use the test procedure for testing low-profile tires used in ASTM F414-
09, ``Standard Test Method for Energy Absorbed by a Tire When Deformed
by Slow-Moving Plunger.'' According to ASTM F414-09, when the plunger
bottoms out on the rim without puncturing the tire, the required
minimum breaking energy is deemed to have been achieved.
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    \26\ Ibid.
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    Fourth, NHTSA seeks comment on whether a new performance test for
tire strength has been developed or whether a new test should be
developed. Such a test could address the issue raised in the petition
related to the testing of low-profile tires. Low-profile tires may be
more prone to blowing out upon impact with a road hazard (i.e.,
pothole, curb) because the low sidewall height causes the sidewall to
be pinched between the road hazard and the rim. In addition, low-
profile tires may be damaged when impacting a road hazard, resulting in
a sidewall ``bubble'' that compromises the integrity of the tire.
However, the existing tire strength requirement addresses the strength
along the tread, not the sidewall. The testing of forces on the
sidewall of the tire would likely require a dynamic road wheel impact
test that is substantially different than the current quasi-static
plunger test.\27\ NHTSA seeks comment about any safety concerns related
to low-profile tires.
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    \27\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 12.
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    Finally, NHTSA seeks comment about the practical and safety
implications of removing the tire strength test. The tire strength
requirement was adopted at a time when most tires produced for the U.S.
market were bias-ply tires. The purpose of the strength requirement is
to ensure that there are no weak points along the tread of bias-ply
tires. NHTSA seeks comment on the differences between the failure modes
of radial-ply tires and bias-ply tires, specifically along the tread
area, and whether the testing is necessary for radial tires. Data show
nearly all passenger car tires sold in the U.S. today are radial
tires.\28\ NHTSA also seeks comment about the scope of any elimination
of, or amendments to, the tire strength requirement. For example, the
performances test could be modified or eliminated for all tires, low-
profile tires, or all radial tires. The issue identified by USTMA is
not applicable to tires other than low-profile radial passenger car
tires. Finally, although few bias-ply tires are sold in the U.S., some
bias-ply tires are still used. NHTSA seeks comment on how bias-ply
tires are used in the marketplace in the U.S. and whether bias-ply
tires will continue to be sold in the U.S.
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    \28\ Tire Industry Facts: US Tire Shipment Activity Report for
Statistical Year 2018. (March 2019). Washington, DC: U.S. Tire
Manufacturers Association.
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    To summarize, NHTSA seeks comment on the following:
    1. Can the tire strength test be repealed, replaced, or modified
without negatively affecting safety? If not, what potential safety
issues should the agency be focused on and how could such safety issues
be mitigated? Explain your perspective, include specifics and data
supporting your response.
    2. Repealing. What are the practical and safety implications of
eliminating the tire strength test? Should the test be eliminated for
all low-profile tires, all radial tires, or all tires without adversely
affecting safety? What are the estimated cost savings of repealing this
provisions within the standards?
[[Page 69702]]
    3. Modifying. What specific changes should the agency consider?
What are the estimated cost savings of implementing such modifications?
In addition, provide comments to the following possible modifications:
    a. Specify and allow use of deep-well test rims.
    b. Specify new minimum breaking energy (performance value) to apply
to low-profile radial tires. How should NHTSA define the term ``low-
profile tires''?
    c. Are there any ambiguities in the term ``bottomed out'' and, if
so, is there any suggestion on how to define the term?
    4. Replacing. What other test procedures(s) are available or can be
developed to replace the strength test (currently used to evaluate the
strength of tire materials)? Should a different procedure be used for
low-profile tires? Please provide sufficient details about each
procedure to permit the agency to analyze and determine whether the
procedure is appropriate and feasible, and whether the procedure is
objective and repeatable. What are the estimated costs of implementing
such procedures?
    5. How many bias-ply tires are sold in the U.S. annually? Will
manufacturers continue selling bias-ply tires for use on motor
vehicles? Should NHTSA keep the strength test for bias-ply tires?
b. Tire Bead Unseating Resistance Test
    NHTSA introduced the tire bead unseating resistance test as part of
FMVSS No. 109 in 1967.\29\ This test is used to evaluate the ability of
the tire's bead to remain seated on the rim and retain tire inflation
pressure when the tire is subjected to high lateral forces.\30\ The
test consists of mounting the wheel and tire in a fixture and force a
bead unseating block against the tire sidewall as specified. The load
is applied through the block to the tire's outer sidewall at the
distance specified. The force applied to the sidewall is increased
until the bead region unseats with resulting air loss, or the specified
minimum force value is achieved, whichever occurs first. The
performance requirements for bead unseating resistance that applies to
passenger car tires are included in FMVSS No.109 S5.2 and FMVSS No. 139
S6.6.
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    \29\ 32 FR 15792 (Nov. 16, 1967).
    \30\ Bead means that part of the tire made of steel wires,
wrapped or reinforced by ply cords, that is shaped to fit the rim.
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    The test forces used in the bead unseating resistance test are
based on bias-ply tires. Because radial tires can satisfy the test
easily,\31\ industry has suggested that NHTSA eliminate this
requirement. In 2002, NHTSA proposed to replace the existing test with
a new bead unseating test that was based on a procedure used by
Toyota.\32\ The alternate test procedure uses forces more stringent
than those in the current standard. However, NHTSA test data and public
comments called into question whether the proposed test would
adequately upgrade the existing standard. As a result, in the
subsequent final rule, the agency decided to retain the FMVSS No.109
bead unseating test for pneumatic tires, to extend that test to light
truck tires, and to conduct additional research to inform a
decision.\33\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \31\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 13.
    \32\ 67 FR 10050 (Mar. 5, 2002).
    \33\ 68 FR 38115 (Jun. 26, 2003).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In an August 12, 2008 letter to NHTSA, USTMA petitioned the agency
to update the bead unseating resistance test in FMVSS No. 109. USTMA
described two issues with the existing test procedure. First, Figure 1,
Bead Unseating Fixture, does not have specifications necessary to test
tires with rim diameter code greater than 20. Second, Figure 2 and
Figure 2A, the diagrams of the bead unseat block, do not provide
suitable geometries for use on low aspect ratio and larger diameter
tires. USTMA asked that NHTSA revise the test fixtures (in Figure 1,
Figure 2, and Figure 2A) or reference within the regulation, ASTM
International F2663-07, paragraph 11.10 and annex A1 Fixtures and
Settings.
    ASTM F2663, ``Standard Test Method for Bead Unseating of Tubeless
Tires for Motor Vehicles with GVWR of 4536 kg (10,000 lb.) or Less''
was developed by the ASTM International F09 committee.\34\ The
petitioner mentioned that the industry standard provides a solution to
the two concerns identified because it includes a comprehensive set of
test blocks that accommodate a wide range of tire sizes for bead
unseating resistance testing and a formula to calculate the ``A''
dimension that is required to complete the test.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \34\ ASTM F2663-07a, Standard Test Method for Bead Unseating of
Tubeless Tires for Motor Vehicles with GVWR of 4536 kg (10 000 lb.)
or Less, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, 2007,
www.astm.org.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In April 2011, USTMA responded to a request for comments about
existing DOT regulations.\35\ It suggested NHTSA remove the bead
unseating test as a mandatory requirement for new pneumatic radial
tires for light vehicles (as described in FMVSS No. 139). It mentioned
that the test should be only applicable to tubeless bias-ply tires (in
FMVSS No. 109). It expressed concerns that the bead unseat test is
outdated, developed for bias-ply tires, and not effective in evaluating
radial tires. USTMA cited differences in construction and force
distribution between bias and radial tires as the reason it believes a
bead unseat test for radial tires is of little value. USTMA suggested
that, if NHTSA determines that it is critical to maintain the test, the
agency consider test protocols like those found in ASTM International
F2663-07a. It mentioned that using ASTM provisions would allow testing
tires with rim diameter codes larger than 20 and with lower aspect
ratios.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \35\ Docket No. DOT-OST-2011-0025-0054.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In a report issued in 2013, NHTSA described its work examining the
feasibility of the equipment and test procedures in ASTM F2663-07a.\36\
The study evaluated block designs, the ``A'' dimension, and whether
inflation pressures were appropriate for testing. A total of 14
passenger vehicle tires and 4 light truck (load ranges D & E) tire
models were included in the study. The tires had widths from 155 to 345
mm, aspect ratios from 30 to 80, and rim codes from 12 to 28. Tires
were selected to evaluate the limits of the test equipment including
the physical dimensions and possible forces required to unseat the
tire.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \36\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 12.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although NHTSA did not find rim interference problems while testing
these radial ply tires using the revised test blocks, the agency seeks
comment on the testing of these tires. The study suggests that ASTM
F2663-07a methods facilitated the conduct tests for passenger vehicles
and light truck tires having a wide range of rim diameter codes and
aspect ratios. The test blocks used allowed testing of different tire
sizes with low aspect ratios since the block did not contact the rim
before reaching the test force specified in the requirement. Two test
pressures were used to evaluate the bead unseating performance of the
tires tested. One test pressure was the inflation pressure, 180 kPa (26
psi), specified for the bead unseating test in FMVSS No. 109. The other
pressure used was 240 kPa (35 psi). Results at the test pressures
indicated that the force required to unseat the tire's bead from the
rim exceeded the minimum test force required in FMVSS No. 109.
    In June 2011, USTMA withdrew the petition after testing low-profile
tires and indicated that additional study of the suggested test method
was needed. It formed a task group to study and develop recommendations
for ASTM and NHTSA to consider. The task group found that some sizes
could not be tested according to ASTM F2663-07a
[[Page 69703]]
due to: (1) Interference between the block and the fixture or the block
and the rim and (2) test block sliding across the tread instead of
pushing on the sidewall when testing. The task group developed
recommendations for the location of the block and revised which blocks
is most appropriate to use on each size.
     Table 1--USTMA Comparison of FMVSS No. 109 Versus ASTM F2663-15
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Provision                FMVSS No. 109       ASTM F2663-15
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bead Unseated Block Type........  Specifies use of    Defines two new
                                   block:.             blocks (in
                                   Block 2A:   addition to 2A),
                                   Tire diameter       that are larger
                                   codes 10-16 in..    in radius and arc
                                                       to provide
                                                       consistent tire
                                                       contact for
                                                       diameters up to
                                                       30 in code:
                                                       Block 2A:
                                                       Tire diameter
                                                       codes 10-16 in.
                                                       Block 2B:
                                                       Tire diameter
                                                       codes 17-24 in.
                                                       Block 2C:
                                                       Tire diameter
                                                       codes 25-30 in.
Bead Unseated Block Position....  Specified a single  Specifies the
                                   block location      point of contact
                                   based on rim        to be 75% of the
                                   diameter.           tire section
                                  Fixed location       height.
                                   does not           Location based on
                                   accommodate         tire geometry and
                                   sufficiently low    treats each tire
                                   aspect ratio        in a consistent
                                   tires and results   manner.
                                   in inconsistent
                                   point of contact
                                   with the block on
                                   the tire sidewall.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
    These recommendations were presented to the ASTM F09 and included
in F2663-15, published in 2015 to replace F2663-07a.\37\ In August
2016, USTMA petitioned NHTSA to amend FMVSS No. 109 and FMVSS No. 139.
It requested the agency to adopt the F2663-15 ASTM Bead Unseating
Procedure.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \37\ ASTM F2663-15, Standard Test Method for Bead Unseating of
Tubeless Passenger and Light Truck Tires, ASTM International, West
Conshohocken, PA, 2015, www.astm.org.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    USTMA requested NHTSA eliminate the bead unseating test in FMVSS
Nos. 109 and 139 for radial tires, indicating that the test is outdated
and does not provide a safety benefit for modern tires.\38\ It
highlighted four reasons for this request. First, most of the tires in
the market today are radial ply tires and the bead unseating test was
designed in the 1960s to evaluate bias-ply tires.\39\ Second, tires
today have much larger diameters (up to 25-inch diameters) and smaller
aspect ratios (as small as 20) and the current regulation does not
properly address the range of tire sizes in the market today.\40\ \41\
Third, the test cannot be performed as intended for some modern tires,
and these tires designed to pass the test may have additional material
at no benefit to the consumer--with an unintended consequence of
increasing rolling resistance, which contributes to lower vehicle fuel
economy. Lastly, it indicated that eliminating the bead unseated
requirements would reduce test and materials cost for tire
manufacturers and reduce costs to NHTSA to audit compliance. It
mentioned that field performance of tires in countries with no bead
unseating performance test requirements show no related performance
issues with tires in service. No data was provided with this
submission.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \38\ https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOT-OST-2017-0069-2842.
    \39\ Bias-ply tire means a pneumatic tire in which the ply cords
that extend to the beads are laid at alternate angles substantially
less than 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread. Radial ply tire
means a pneumatic tire in which the ply cords which extend to the
beads are laid at substantially 90 degrees to the centerline of the
tread.
    \40\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 12.
    \41\ Harris, J.R. et al., supra note 13.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NHTSA seeks comment on whether change to or elimination of the tire
bead unseating test is appropriate. NHTSA seeks data about low-profile
tire testing with regards to the bead unseat test. NHTSA also requests
comment about modifying the test to accommodate low-profile tires.
NHTSA seeks comment on whether the bead unseating test can be modified
using ASTM F2663 to extend the applicability of the test to low profile
tires and tires with larger rim diameter codes. NHTSA is also seeking
comment on whether a new test to examine tire bead unseating, in
addition to the one described in this notice, has been developed or
whether a new test can be developed. Such a test could address the
issue raised in the petition related to the testing of low-profile
tires. Lastly, NHTSA seeks comment about the practical and safety
implications of removing the tire bead unseating test and about the
scope of any elimination of this requirement.
    To summarize, NHTSA seeks comment on the following:
    6. Can the bead unseating resistance test be repealed, replaced, or
modified without negatively affecting safety? If not, what potential
safety issues should the agency be focused on and how could such safety
issues be mitigated? Explain your perspective in detail and include any
available data in support of your response.
    7. Repealing. What are the practical and safety implications of
eliminating the tire bead unseating resistance test? Could the test be
eliminated for all low-profile tires, all radial tires, all tires
without adversely affecting safety? What are the estimated cost savings
of repealing this provision within the standards?
    8. Modifying. What specific changes should the agency consider?
What are the estimated cost savings of implementing such modifications?
NHTSA seeks specific comment on the following modification:
    a. Adopt ASTM F2663, to apply FMVSS No. 109 procedure to tires with
rim diameter code up to 30.\42\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \42\ For example, using the information in Table A1.1--``Table
of Recommended Blocks and Rim Sizes'' for `A' dimension data that
include larger rim diameter codes and is organized to specify which
test block to use for each `A' dimension value and its corresponding
rim diameter code from 10 to 30; the formula to calculate an
alternate `A' dimension value; and information about dimensional
mechanical drawings for each test block for manufacturing.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    9. Replacing. What other test procedures are available or can be
developed to replace the bead unseating resistance test? Should a
different procedure be used for low-profile tires?
    Please provide sufficient details about each procedure to permit
the agency to analyze and determine whether the procedure is
appropriate and feasible, and whether the procedure is objective and
repeatable. What are the estimated costs of implementing such
procedures?
c. Tire Endurance Test: Failure Due to Chunking
    The endurance test requirements for passenger car tires are
included in FMVSS No. 139. The test consists of mounting the tire on a
test rim and inflate to the pressure specified for the tire. The
assembly is conditioned and the pressure readjusted to the values
specified. The assembly is then mounted in a test axle and pressed
against the outer face of a smooth wheel. The test is conducted without
interruptions at not less than 120 km/h and with the specified loads
and test periods. The inflation pressure is not
[[Page 69704]]
corrected during the test and the test load is maintained at the value
corresponding to each test period. After running the test for the time
specified, the inflation pressure is measured and the tire is visually
inspected.
    When tested in accordance to the specified test procedure, FMVSS
No. 139, S6.3.2(a) specifies that there shall be no visual evidence of
tread, sidewall, ply, cord, belt or bead separation; chunking; open
splices; cracking or broken cords.\43\ The tire pressure after the test
shall not be less than 95% of the initial pressure specified in
S6.3.1.1.1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \43\ These damage conditions are defined in 49 CFR 571.139, S3.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    After the 2013 final rule establishing FMVSS No. 139, tire
manufacturers requested that NHTSA either redefine tire chunking or not
consider tire chunking to be an indication of tire failure during the
endurance test. In response to petitions for reconsideration to that
final rule, the agency decided against eliminating ``chunking'' as a
test failure condition.\44\ The agency concluded that operating a
vehicle with chunked tires may create concerns due to wheel imbalance
and vehicle vibration. Further, the agency found that allowing tread
chunking just short of exposing the reinforcement cords could create
risk of tire failure. No data was provided to the agency demonstrating
that some fixed percentage of a tire's tread could break away without
detrimental effect on safe vehicle operation. NHTSA noted that
international standards also include the presence of tire chunking as a
damage condition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \44\ 71 FR 877 (Jan. 6, 2006).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In response to the October 2, 2017 notice, USTMA stated that tread
chunking is not a structural degradation of the tire, is not a safety
related condition, and therefore should not be considered a damage
condition used in regulatory compliance assessments. It views tire
chunking as an endurance testing anomaly, indicating that chunking is
also a result that lacks consistency due to variability in test
conditions. USTMA did not provide data to support its assertion, to
justify the expected benefits, or to evaluate the potential unintended
consequences of removing this requirement. Such data would be helpful
to inform potential regulatory action on this subject.
    NHTSA seeks comments on the following:
    10. NHTSA seeks data and information about the test conditions and
performance requirements for the endurance test in FMVSS No. 139.
    11. What are the potential cost savings associated with the removal
of chunking as a damage condition for the endurance test? Please
describe the cost elements and provide supporting data for the
estimates.
    12. Are there negative safety consequences of removing chunking as
a relevant damage condition for the endurance test? Please explain.
d. Tire Markings for Ply Description, Ply Rating, Tubeless, and Radial
    FMVSS No. 139, S5.5 Tire markings, specifies that a tire must be
marked on each sidewall with the following information: (a) The symbol
DOT, which constitutes a certification that the tire conforms to the
FMVSS; (b) the tire size designation as listed in the documents and
publications specified in S4.1.1 of this standard; (c) the maximum
permissible inflation pressure, subject to the limitations of S5.5.4
through S5.5.6 of this standard; (d) the maximum load rating and for
light truck (LT) tires, the letter designating the tire load range; (e)
the generic name of each cord material used in the plies (both sidewall
and tread area) of the tire; (f) the actual number of plies in the
sidewall, and the actual number of plies in the tread area, if
different; (g) the term ``tubeless'' or ``tube type,'' as applicable;
(h) the word ``radial,'' if the tire is a radial ply tire; and (i) the
alpine symbol, at the manufacturer's option if the tire meets the
definition of a ``snow tire.''
    USTMA states that several marking regulations for tires are
obsolete and should be eliminated. These include ply description and
ply rating; `tubeless' marking, and `radial' marking.\45\ USTMA
indicates that the number of plies no longer indicates a tire's
robustness, customers do not purchase tires based on this information,
and there is no safety impact associated with this information or
errors to it. USTMA states that errors in marking can lead to a
manufacturer filing a petition for inconsequential noncompliance, with
associated administrative cost for both NHTSA and tire manufacturer.
The agency has made determinations that some labeling errors constitute
an inconsequential noncompliance.\46\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \45\ 49 CFR.571.139, S5.5 (e), (f), (g), and (h).
    \46\ See, e.g., 76 FR 73007 (Nov. 28, 2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NHTSA seeks comments on the following:
    13. Are there benefits to all required tire markings, specifically,
ply description and ply rating; `tubeless' marking, and `radial'
marking and seeks information on the impacts of these marking
requirements on motor vehicle safety? If there are potential safety
issues associated with the removal of any required markings, how could
such safety issues be mitigated? Explain your perspective, include
specifics and any data supporting your response.
    14. What are the potential cost savings associated with the removal
of these markings (ply description and ply rating; `tubeless' marking,
and `radial' marking)? Please provide any supporting data for the
estimates.
e. Other Tire-Related Issues
    In response to a January 18, 2018, request for comments on
automated driving systems (ADS),\47\ Bridgestone America asked that
NHTSA consider new and emerging tire technologies to reduce tire
failures on ADS-equipped vehicles.\48\ It asked that NHTSA consider how
pneumatic tire alternatives can be permitted as compliance options for
both ADS-equipped vehicles and conventional vehicles. Examples provided
include extended mobility tires; run-flat tires; and non-pneumatic
extended use tires. NHTSA seeks comment on how existing regulations can
be revised to foster tire innovation without adversely affecting
safety.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \47\ 83 FR 2607.
    \48\ NHTSA-2018-0009.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    NHTSA has also received two petitions for rulemaking to update tire
regulations and the agency is seeking comments in this ANPRM to support
its response. First, in a December 3, 2010 petition,\49\ the Tire and
Rim Association petitioned NHTSA to recognize 250 kPa and 290 kPa as
allowable maximum inflation pressures for passenger car tires in FMVSS
No. 139, and to provide a corresponding reference in FMVSS No. 138. TRA
stated that these tire sizes have been recognized by the European Tyre
and Rim Technical Organization and the Japanese Tyre Manufacturers
Association and have been approved and published by ISO. TRA suggested
that no adjustments to test criteria would be necessary, meaning that
250 kPa tires would be subject to the test criteria for 240 kPa
standard load tires and 290 kPa tires would be subject to the test
criteria for 280 kPa extra load tires.\50\ Although this would result
in
[[Page 69705]]
250 kPa and 290 kPa tires being subject to slightly more stringent
standards than the 240 kPa and 280 kPa tires, higher tire pressure
equates to higher load capacity. NHTSA seeks comment on whether to
amend FMVSS No. 139 as requested by TRA (with a corresponding amendment
to FMVSS No. 138).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \49\ NHTSA-2019-0011.
    \50\ The December 3, 2010 petition states, that based on the
actions of the ISO Working Group on passenger car tire loads, TRA,
the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organization, and the Japanese
Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association have adopted new
guidelines for load ratings for future size passenger car tires.
These harmonize guidelines have also been approved by ISO and are
published in ISO Standard 4000-1. The reference inflation pressure
for standard load tires is 250 kPa and 290 kPa for extra load tires.
This program has been reviewed and accepted by most of the vehicle
manufacturers in United States, Europe and Japan. These proposed
additions do not include any changes to the test inflation pressure
criteria.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In a July 14, 2014 petition,\51\ TRA requested that NHTSA revise
the metric conversion for T-type spare tires. Currently, T-type spare
tires have a maximum inflation pressure of 420 kPa (60 psi). Currently,
the TRA year book recognizes both 415 kPa and 420 kPa as options for T-
type spare tires with the notation that NHTSA requires T-type spare
tires to be marked with a maximum inflation pressure of 420 kPa. ETRTO
and JATMA only specify a maximum inflation pressure of 420 kPa. No
change was suggested to the 60 psi maximum inflation pressure. NHTSA
requests comment on whether this change suggested by TRA is necessary
and would not reduce safety.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \51\ Docket No. NHTSA-2014-0009-0003.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    15. NHTSA seeks comments on the following: Please provide
information about emerging tire technologies and trends that may impact
motor vehicle safety.
    16. Do existing regulations impede tire innovation(s)? Please
explain.
    17. What regulatory actions are needed to remove impediment(s) to
tire innovation without adversely affecting safety?
IV. Public Participation
a. How can I influence NHTSA's thinking on this rulemaking?
    Your comments will help us improve this rulemaking. NHTSA invites
you to provide different views on options NHTSA discusses, new
approaches the agency has not considered, new data, descriptions of how
this ANPRM may affect you, or other relevant information.
    NHTSA welcomes public review of on all aspects of this ANPRM, but
request comments on specific issues throughout this document. NHTSA
will consider the comments and information received in developing its
eventual proposal for how to proceed with updating requirements for
motor vehicles. Your comments will be most effective if you follow the
suggestions below:
     Explain your views and reasoning as clearly as possible.
     Provide solid technical and cost data to support your
views.
     If you estimate potential costs, explain how you arrived
at the estimate.
     Tell NHTSA which parts of the ANPRM you support, as well
as those with which you disagree.
     Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns.
     Offer specific alternatives.
     Refer your comments to specific sections of the ANPRM,
such as the units or page numbers of the preamble.
b. How do I prepare and submit comments?
    Your comments must be written and in English. To ensure that your
comments are filed correctly in the Docket, please include the docket
umber of this document located at the beginning of this notice in your
comments.
    Your primary comments should not be more than 15 pages long.\52\
You may attach additional documents to your primary comments, such as
supporting data or research. There is no limit on the length of the
attachments.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \52\ 49 CFR 553.21.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please submit one copy of your comments (two if submitting by mail
or hand delivery), including the attachments, to the docket via one of
the methods identified under the ADDRESSES section at the begging of
this document. If you are submitting comments electronically as a PDF
(Adobe) file, we ask that the documents submitted be scanned using an
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process, thus allowing NHTSA to
search and copy certain portions of your submission.
    Please note that pursuant to the Data Quality Act, for substantive
data to be relied upon and used by the agency, it must meet the
information quality standards set forth in the OMB and DOT Data Quality
Act guidelines. Accordingly, NHTSA encourages you to consult the
guidelines in preparing your comments. DOT's guidelines may be accessed
at www.transportation.gov/regulations/dot-information-dissemination-quality-guidelines.
    Privacy Act: Anyone can search the electronic form of all comments
received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf
of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT's
complete Privacy Act statement published in the Federal Register on
April 11, 2000 (65 FR 19477-78) or you may visit http://www.transportation.gov/privacy.
c. How can I be sure that my comments were received?
    If you submit comments by hard copy and wish Docket Management to
notify you upon its receipt of your comments, enclose a self-addressed,
stamped postcard in the envelope containing your comments. Upon
receiving your comments, Docket Management will return the postcard by
mail. If you submit comments electronically, your comments should
appear automatically in the docket number at the beginning of this
notice on http://www.regulations.gov. If they do not appear within two
weeks of posting, we suggest that you call the Docket Management
Facility at 202-366-9826.
d. How do I submit confidential business information?
    If you wish to submit any information under a claim of
confidentiality, you should submit three copies of your complete
submission, including the information that you claim to be confidential
business information, to the Chief Counsel, NHTSA, U.S. Department of
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590. In
addition, you should submit a copy from which you have deleted the
claimed confidential business information to Docket Management, either
in hard copy at the address given above under ADDRESSES, or
electronically through regulations.gov. When you send a comment
containing information claimed to be confidential business information,
you should include a cover letter setting forth the information
specified in 49 CFR part 512.
e. Will the agency consider late comments?
    NHTSA will consider all comments received to the docket before the
close of business on the comment closing date indicated above under the
DATES section. NHTSA will consider these additional comments to the
extent possible, but we caution that we may not be able to fully
address those comments prior to the agency's proposal.
f. How can I read the comments submitted by other people?
    You may read the comments received by Docket Management in hard
copy at the address given above under the ADDRESSES section. The hours
of the Docket Management office are indicated above in the same
location. You may also read the comments on the internet by doing the
following:
    (1) Go to http://www.regulations.gov.
[[Page 69706]]
    (2) Regulations.gov provides two basic methods of searching to
retrieve dockets and docket materials that are available in the system:
    a. The search box on the home page which conducts a simple full-
text search of the website, into which you can type the docket number
of this notice and
    b. ``Advanced Search,'' which is linked on the regulations.gov home
page, and which displays various indexed fields such as the docket
name, docket identification number, phase of the action, initiating
office, date of issuance, document title, document identification
number, type of document, Federal Register reference, CFR citation,
etc. Each data field in the advanced search function may be searched
independently or in combination with other fields, as desired. Each
search yields a simultaneous display of all available information found
in regulations.gov that is relevant to the requested subject or topic.
    (3) Once you locate the docket at http://www.regulations.gov, you
can download the comments you wish to read. We note that since comments
are often imaged documents rather than word processing documents (e.g.,
PDF rather than Microsoft Word), some comments may not be word-
searchable.
    Please note that, even after the comment closing date, NHTSA will
continue to file relevant information in the Docket as it becomes
available. Further, some people may submit late comments. Accordingly,
NHTSA recommends that you periodically check the Docket for new
material.
V. Rulemaking Notices and Analyses
a. Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and DOT Regulatory Policies and
Procedures
    NHTSA has considered the impact of this ANPRM under Executive Order
12866, Executive Order 13563, and DOT Order 2100.6, ``Policies and
Procedures for Rulemakings.'' This rulemaking has been determined to be
not ``significant'' under the Department of Transportation's regulatory
policies and procedures and the policies of the Office of Management
and Budget. Because NHTSA does not have sufficient information to
formulate a proposal on all of the issues discussed in this notice,
NHTSA cannot estimate the costs and benefits of this ANPRM. However,
NHTSA requests comments on the costs and benefits of any of the
regulatory actions suggested in this ANPRM or by any commenter.
b. Executive Order 13771 (Reducing Regulation and Controlling
Regulatory Costs)
    This action is not subject to the requirements of E.O. 13771 (82 FR
9339, February 3, 2017) because it is an advance notice of proposed
rulemaking.
c. Regulatory Flexibility Act
    Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.,
no analysis is required for an ANPRM. However, vehicle manufacturers
and equipment manufacturers are encouraged to comment if they identify
any aspects of the potential rulemaking that may apply to them.
d. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)
    As an ANPRM, NHTSA does not believe that this document raises
sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a
federalism assessment. NHTSA believes that federalism issues would be
more appropriately considered if and when the agency proposes changes
to its tire regulations.
e. Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)
    With respect to the review of the promulgation of a new regulation,
section 3(b) of Executive Order 12988, ``Civil Justice Reform'' (61 FR
4729, February 7, 1996) requires that Executive agencies make every
reasonable effort to ensure that the regulation: (1) Clearly specifies
the preemptive effect; (2) clearly specifies the effect on existing
Federal law or regulation; (3) provides a clear legal standard for
affected conduct, while promoting simplification and burden reduction;
(4) clearly specifies the retroactive effect, if any; (5) adequately
defines key terms; and (6) addresses other important issues affecting
clarity and general draftsmanship under any guidelines issues by the
Attorney General. This document is consistent with that requirement.
f. Paperwork Reduction Act
    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), a person is not
required to respond to a collection of information by a Federal agency
unless the collection displays a valid OMB control number. There are no
information collection requirements associated with this ANPRM. Any
information collection requirements and the associated burdens will be
discussed in detail once a proposal has been issued.
g. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act
    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement
Act (NTTAA) requires NHTSA to evaluate and use existing voluntary
consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless doing so would
be inconsistent with applicable law (e.g., the statutory provisions
regarding NHTSA's vehicle safety authority) or otherwise impractical.
Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., materials
specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business
practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus
standards bodies, such as the Society of Automotive Engineers. The
NTTAA directs us to provide Congress (through OMB) with explanations
when we decide not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus
standards. As NHTSA has not yet developed specific regulatory
requirements, the NTTAA does not apply for purposes of this ANPRM.
h. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires agencies to
prepare a written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects
of proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to
result in the expenditure of State, local, or tribal governments, in
the aggregate, or by the private sector, of more than $100 million
annually (adjusted for inflation with base year of 1995). NHTSA has
determined that this ANPRM would not result in expenditures by State,
local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private
sector, in excess of $100 million annually.
i. National Environmental Policy Act
    NHTSA has analyzed this rulemaking action for the purposes of the
National Environmental Policy Act. The agency has preliminarily
determined that implementation of this rulemaking action would not have
any significant impact on the quality of the human environment.
j. Plain Language
    The Plain Language Writing Act of 2010 (Pub. L. 111-274) requires
that federal agencies write documents in a clear, concise, and well-
organized manner. While the Act does not cover regulations, Executive
Orders 12866 and 13563 require each agency to write all notices in
plain language that is simple and easy to understand. Application of
the principles of plain language includes consideration of the
following questions:
[[Page 69707]]
     Have we organized the material to suit the public's needs?
     Are the requirements in the notice clearly stated?
     Does the notice contain technical language or jargon that
is not clear?
     Would a different format (grouping and order of sections,
use of headings, paragraphing) make the rule easier to understand?
     Would more (but shorter) sections be better?
     Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists, or
diagrams?
    If you have any responses to these questions, please include them
in your comments on this proposal.
k. Regulatory Identifier Number (RIN)
    The Department of Transportation assigns a regulation identifier
number (RIN) to each regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of
Federal Regulations. The Regulatory Information Service Center
publishes the Unified Agenda in April and October of each year. You may
use the RIN contained in the heading at the beginning of this document
to find this action in the Unified Agenda.
    Issued in Washington, DC, under authority delegated in 49 CFR
part 1.95 and 501.5.
James Clayton Owens,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2019-27209 Filed 12-18-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P