- Report Published -
|Need for Standards for Recapped Tires|
|Department of State Police|
|HJR 545 (Regular Session, 1999)|
|In the 1999 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, House Joint Resolution Number 545 was passed, requesting the Department of State Police to study the need for state standards for recapped vehicle tires. A Committee was developed which was composed of members representing the tire industry, trucking industry, and the public safety community.|
Initial research revealed there are federal standards applicable to passenger car/light truck retreading, but none pertaining to large truck tires. The only state that currently regulates the production and use of retreaded tires is California. The standards that were adopted in California were drafted jointly by the California Highway Patrol and representatives of the tire and retreading industry. They are almost identical to the recommended retreading and repairing standards published by the tire industry.
The Committee also determined there are 43 retreading businesses in the State of Virginia that produce between 4-6 percent of all retreads. There are 1,244 retreading operations throughout the United States, which indicates Virginia Standards would only impact 3.5 percent of the retread producers.
The Committee reviewed two surveys of rubber found on the roadway that were conducted by The Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Association and two laboratory tests performed by The American Retreader's Association. The comparison of the two surveys revealed there is a problem with tire debris on the highway, but the causes of tire failures are not usually due to recap failure, which is the perception. They concluded that both new and retreaded tires would overheat and shred into sections of debris if proper air pressure is not maintained. In one of the laboratory experiments, a plunger strength test was performed on a new, randomly selected recapped tire and it was determined that the tire exceeded standards by almost twice the minimum strength requirement. In the other laboratory experiment, a burst strength test was conducted that compared new radial truck tires with worn radial truck tires. The results of the burst test concluded the strength of the worn and new samples to be very similar. The worn tires, which were typical of those selected for retreading, did not show any loss of strength as a result of previous use. In this study, tread wear did not diminish the strength of low-profile radial truck tire casings compared to new tires.
Members also reviewed the President's Executive Order 13101 that sets forth environmental protection initiatives by requiring the federal government fleet to be equipped with retreaded tires. The retreading program introduced by the U. S. Army Tank-Automotive & Armaments Command provided information that demonstrated retread tires can be cost-effective without compromising on performance needs.
Information was reviewed that outlined the manner in which industry standards are developed and distributed by a standing committee composed of officials from different tire manufacturing organizations. The entire industry is concerned about the problems of tire debris on the roadway and is actively seeking solutions. It was also reported that the retreading industry maintains self-imposed standards of quality. Trucking industry contacts advised trucking officials view retreads as safe, reliable, and cost-effective.
In addition to self-imposed standards, major rubber companies control the production quality of retreaders through franchise agreements. The companies publish retreading specifications and operations manuals on the retreading process and require franchisees to comply with their recommended practices. They also offer or require training of production and management personnel. It is estimated that this rubber company control would affect at least 70 percent of the retreads produced in the United States.
The Committee reviewed previous VDOT studies in detail and determined that during their 2% year study utilizing recapped tires, the failure rate was less than one percent. Their success was so positive, the use of retreads will be expanded from the Fredericksburg District to all the VDOT Districts.
Virginia Department of Transportation conducted a Tire Debris Collection Survey on three different sections of heavily traveled interstate highways. During the eight-week survey, an estimated 127,522 pounds of tire debris was collected over 658 miles of highway. This confirmed there is a problem with tire debris being spread along the shoulders of roadways.
The Committee conducted an analysis of tire debris collected by VDOT from the entire 72 miles of I-295 extending around Richmond. Examination revealed the debris made up the remains of 27 tires, eight of which were new, 18 retreads, and one could not be determined due to deterioration. Of the entire survey, it was determined only one of the 27 tires failed due to poor recapping practices. In this case, the cause was determined to be human error. The remaining recapped tires still had the retread portion attached to the casing, which indicates the problems were not related to the separation of the retread rubber from the tire casing.
After careful review of available information and completion of the research projects, the Study Committee is convinced the problem of tire debris along the highways is not due solely to retreaded tires. All previous studies, including this study, have determined a small percentage of the rubber on the roadway actually comes from retreaded tires that failed due to production standards related to the retreading tire industry. Examination of the debris reveals many of the tires are new and have never been recapped. Most of the retreaded tires that are torn apart still have the tread rubber intact, and the failures are due to other factors, such as punctures or overheating due to underinflation. Experts believe failure to maintain sufficient air pressure causes the tire casings to become extremely hot and to eventually come apart and spread debris beside the highways. When citizens observe pieces of rubber along the roadway, they perceive the debris as coming from tractor-trailers having improperly recapped tires. Careful research indicates that perception is not reality in the majority of the actual cases. New tires will fail the same as retreaded tires under similar conditions.
Based on the results of this study, this Committee does not recommend the development of state standards. There is a misconception that all tire debris problems are attributed to retreading operations, which is not factual. Furthermore, imposing standards would only affect the 3.5 percent of retreaders that operate in Virginia.
In lieu of developing state standards, the Committee recommended the following action:
• Concentrate on public education concerning proper tire maintenance and the importance of maintaining recommended air pressure in tires.
• Encourage key members of the tire industry to maintain strict industry standards and follow recommended practices and processing guidelines.
• Forward all available information to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for their review and consideration in developing Federal Standards for recapped tires designed for large commercial motor vehicles.