Tougher standards for car and light truck tires are on the way - possibly as early as the fall - but the details still have to be worked out between the federal auto safety officials proposing them and tiremakers, who assert they're too stringent and unnecessary in any case, according to New York Newsday. The proposal is an outgrowth of the three-year-old Ford Explorer/Firestone controversy over tire failures that were blamed for 287 deaths and which resulted in recalls of millions of tires. Congressional hearings last year resulted in legislation mandating that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) update current standards, which were set in 1967. The agency's proposal would establish more stringent requirements for tires' durability, especially under stresses such as heat, underinflation, hard driving maneuvers. The requirements also would cover tires' ability to remain on a wheel after striking hazards such as a pothole, or after a failure. Current standards were set before steel-belted radial tires came into widespread use and before the surge in popularity of sport utility vehicles, vans and pickups, which now account for about half the new vehicles sold.