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White House, NHTSA Debating Tire Monitoring Systems

February 14, 2002

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has sent back to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the agency's proposed standard for tire-pressure-monitoring systems in cars, according to a USA Today story by Earle Eldridge.OMB wants NHTSA to look at using a tire-pressure-monitoring system that relies on a car's or truck's anti-lock brake system. It's less costly -- and less accurate -- than the system NHTSA wants to require.The ABS system monitors the speed of each tire to calculate its pressure. The system favored by NHTSA measures the actual pressure of each tire.John Graham, OMB administrator of information and regulatory affairs, maintains that requiring an ABS-based system would force automakers to install more of the advanced-braking systems, likely saving lives over the long term. Graham said in a letter to NHTSA that about two-thirds of new vehicles now comewith ABS, leaving room for growth. "Both experimental evidence and recent real-world data have indicated a modest net safety benefit from anti-lock brakes," Graham says in his letter.Automakers want to be able to use either system. Both work, according to Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance ofAutomobile Manufacturers. "Both have been proven to alert drivers to low tire pressure, which is what Congress asked for. And one is a low-cost option," Bergquist said.NHTSA officials refused to comment other than to say the agency has received the letter and is looking at Graham's proposal, according to USA Today.
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