LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
By Stuart Gosswein
Electronic Tire IDs: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concluded that it is technologically possible to provide tire identification number (TIN) data in an electronic format for all tires. The findings are included in a Congressional study required under the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The electronically readable data would be a marking or tag within or on the tire sidewall. The TIN could then be captured and transmitted electronically using a handheld scanning tool.
The TIN is a string of six to 13 letters and numbers marked on the sidewall of a tire. It contains information about the tire, including the plant where the tire was manufactured, the tire size, and the week/year of manufacture. This identifier assists in owner notification when there is a tire recall and is not unique to the individual tire but applies to all the same types of tires produced at a factory during a specific calendar week.
NHTSA identified two candidates for creating an electronic TIN: radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, and 2-D barcodes. RFID tags are small electronic components that consist of a small chip and an antenna. RFID tags are typically attached to or implanted within an item and contain electronic information used to identify that item.
Electronic technology could provide the industry with an easier and more accurate method to scan data as tires are sold rather than relying on paper registrations. The TIN could then be linked to the vehicle identification number, making it a more reliable way to contact the current registered owner in case of a recall.
E15 Gasoline: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed regulation to allow gas stations around the country to sell E15 (gasoline containing 15% ethanol) year-round. The EPA currently prohibits the sale of E15 between June 1 and September 15 due to concerns that higher blends of ethanol, combined with warmer temperatures, may lead to increased ground-level ozone formation and smog. The EPA’s rulemaking is an effort to increase the availability of E15, as ethanol supporters maintained that few gas stations sold the fuel since E15 could only be sold for part of the year. The EPA has turned to sales of E15 to achieve the Renewable Fuel Standard’s artificial mandates to blend large volumes of ethanol into gasoline sold in the United States each year. SEMA opposes this proposed rulemaking and the expansion of E15 sales. Ethanol, especially in higher concentrations such as E15, can cause damage to high-performance parts and vehicles manufactured prior to 2001.
Window Glazing Standard: NHTSA withdrew a 2012 proposal to revise Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 205, “Glazing Materials,” electing not to incorporate Global Technical Regulation (GTR) No. 6, “Safety Glazing Materials for Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment.” After reviewing public comments, NHTSA decided not to pursue a harmonized vehicle equipment regulation at this time, pending additional research and information.
FMVSS No. 205 sets performance requirements for all types of glazing that may be installed in cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles. The procedures for testing tempered glass, laminated glass, and glass-plastic glazing used in front windshields and rear and side windows would have been modified if GTR No. 6 was adopted. Specific upgrades would have included changes to the fragmentation test for curved tempered glass and a new procedure for testing an optical property of the windshield at the angle of installation to more accurately reflect real-world driving conditions.
NHTSA was unable to determine whether the proposed changes would improve or decrease safety, so it will monitor new developments, including the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) efforts to publish a revised Glazing Standard, SAE Standard J3097, “Standard for Safety Glazing Materials for Glazing Motor Vehicles and Motor Vehicle Equipment Operating on Land Highways.”
Arizona—Emissions Exemption: A SEMA-supported law to exempt qualified collectible vehicles from the state’s emissions inspection and maintenance program went into effect June 1. While the bill was signed into law in 2005, the state’s regulatory process delayed implementation. In order to qualify, a vehicle must be either 15 model years old or older or be of a unique or rare design, of limited production, and an object of curiosity. In addition, the vehicle must be maintained primarily for use in car club activities, exhibitions, parades or other functions of public interest or for a private collection and used only infrequently. Additionally, the vehicle must have collectible or classic automobile insurance coverage that restricts the vehicle’s mileage or use, or both, and requires the owner to have another vehicle for personal use. The current exemptions for pre-’67 vehicles also remain in effect.
California—Registration Renewals: The California Senate Transportation Committee unanimously passed legislation to allow motor-vehicle owners the option of moving to a biennial registration period. The choice to register biennially would not be mandatory. The bill awaits consideration in the Appropriations
Georgia—Lighting: Legislation introduced in the Georgia House of Representatives to allow for the installation and operation of bar-shaped auxiliary lighting on motor vehicles driven on public roads under certain conditions failed to be enacted before the legislature adjourned for the year. The use of such lighting is currently limited to off-road purposes only. The bill is eligible to be reconsidered during the 2020 legislative session.
Hawaii—Motorsports: The Hawaii Senate and the House Committee on Water, Land, and Hawaiian Affairs passed a resolution advocating for the construction of a new racetrack facility on the island of Oahu. The resolution currently awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee. The Hawaiian racing community lost motorsports facilities on Oahu more than a decade ago.
Maryland—Low-Mileage Vehicles: Legislation introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates to exempt vehicles driven under 5,000 mi. annually from inspection and testing requirements failed to be enacted before the legislature adjourned for the year. Low-mileage vehicle exemptions are currently available only to those with disabilities and to persons 70 years old or older.
West Virginia—Motorsports: West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed into law legislation to create the West Virginia Motorsports Committee. The committee is tasked with aiding in the development of racing events and facilities throughout the state. It will also seek opportunities to promote economic growth and manufacturing jobs related to motorsports.
Minnesota—License Plates: Companion legislation was introduced in Minnesota to allow for the issuance of only a single, rear-mounted license plate for special-interest vehicles—defined as those owned for leisure purposes, driven less than 10,000 mi. per year, and not used for general transportation. The bills are currently awaiting consideration in the House and Senate Transportation Finance and Policy Divisions.
Nevada—Military Vehicles: The Nevada Senate passed legislation to allow for the titling and registration of retired military vehicles. The bill awaits consideration in the Assembly Committee on Growth and Infrastructure. Retired military vehicles are not currently able to be titled or registered for use on highways in Nevada.
South Carolina—Motorsports: Legislation was introduced in the South Carolina House of Representatives to create the South Carolina Racing Study Commission to examine how the state can encourage all forms of racing. The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Tennessee—Military Vehicles: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law legislation that exempts historic military vehicles from the requirement to display license plates. An historic military vehicle is currently defined as being 25 years old or older, manufactured for use in any country’s military, and maintained to represent the vehicle’s military design and markings.
Texas—Assembled Vehicles: The Texas House passed legislation to create a specific registration and titling class for assembled vehicles, including kit cars, dune buggies, and former military vehicles. The bill now awaits consideration in the Senate Transportation Committee. The bill will provide guidance to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles on how to treat assembled vehicles. There is currently no specific registration and titling class for certain assembled vehicles such as dune buggies.