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Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems

Driving on underinflated tires is dangerous and far too common. More than a third of the passenger cars and light trucks on the road have at least one tire underinflated by 20 percent, while more than a quarter have at least one tire underinflated by 25 percent and a fifth have at least one tire underinflated by 30 percent. To address this problem in the wake of the Ford/Firestone tragedy, Congress in November 2000 directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue a rule requiring a warning system in new vehicles to alert the driver when a tire is significantly underinflated.

Under pressure from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the auto industry, NHTSA issued a rule allowing manufacturers to install inferior monitoring systems.  Public Citizen successfully sued NHTSA over the faulty rule, which the court vacated and sent back to NHTSA for revision.

In April 2005, NHTSA issued a new rule that again would fail to keep motorists from riding on dangerously underinflated tires.  In June 2005, Public Citizen, along with the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Pirelli and the Tire Industry Association, filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, arguing that the new rule is inadequate and should be overturned.

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