7 States May Put Regulation of Worn-Out Used Tires on Legislative Agenda for 2015

It’s likely that seven states will consider legislation governing the sale of used tires in the coming year, online industry publication Tire Business reported Jan. 23. Such legislation would set safety standards and ban the sale of tires that do not meet those standards.

“Safety is the highest priority of the tire industry,” Dan Zielinski, senior vice president of public affairs for the Rubber Manufacturers Association, stated in a news release addressing the issue. “Laws to stop the sale of worn-out, damaged used tires will help improve highway and motorist safety.”

The RMA successfully advocated for a law passed in Colorado last year that addressed scrap and used tires. It expects Florida, Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas to debate similar policies in 2015, though it has not said at this time whether it will support specific legislation in any of those states.

According to RMA data, up to 35 million used tires are put up for sale across the country each year, and about one in 10 cars is outfitted with used tires.

Drawing Reasonable Distinctions
According to Zielinski, “Any used tire is a risky proposition since it’s impossible to know the service history of a tire used by someone else.” The question at hand, of course, is whether it is the government’s responsibility to limit sales or if consumers should be educating themselves on which used tires are dangerous. Zielinski says that some tires go beyond individual risk-taking to become a public safety hazard.

Legislation might take action affecting used tires with a tread shallower than 2/32 of an inch, tires with exposed steel or internal components, tires that have been improperly repaired or tires with bulges indicative of internal damage.

Others in the tire industry, while echoing Zielinski’s emphasis on safety, have pointed out that not all used tires are unsafe, and this is a message that should be made clear to consumers should such legislation go forward.

“There are significant amounts of good tires that are considered used, but the problem is that it’s a judgement call for the vehicle owner; it all depends on their financial situation. However there is always a market and a demand for used tires,” said Rick Genin, owner of  Genin’s AutoCare. “I believe this legislation is a starting point, but then how does one enforce this?”Some environmental activists also advocate for used-tire sales because of difficulty dealing with scrap tires that are often stockpiled or left in landfills. Each state has its own legislation dealing with recycling programs for used tires.

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