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Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Trucking Topics:  Bridgestone

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
7 April 2017


[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 66 (Friday, April 7, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 17067-17068]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-06952]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

[Docket No. NHTSA-2016-0066; Notice 2]


Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, Grant of Petition for 
Decision of Inconsequential Noncompliance

AGENCY: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 
Department of Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Grant of petition.

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SUMMARY: Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO), has 
determined that certain Bridgestone VSB heavy-duty radial truck tires 
do not fully comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 
No. 119, New Pneumatic Tires for Motor Vehicles with a GVWR of more 
than 4,536 Kilograms (10,000 pounds) and Motorcycles. BATO filed a 
noncompliance report dated April 7, 2016. BATO then petitioned NHTSA on 
May 5, 2016, for a decision that the subject noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety.

ADDRESSES: For further information on this decision contact Abraham 
Diaz, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA), telephone (202) 366-5310, facsimile 
(202) 366-5930.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    I. Overview: Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC (BATO), has 
determined that certain Bridgestone VSB heavy-duty radial truck tires 
do not fully comply with paragraph S6.5(d) of Federal Motor Vehicle 
Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 119, New Pneumatic Tires for Motor Vehicles 
with a GVWR of more than 4,536 Kilograms (10,000 pounds) and 
Motorcycles. BATO filed a report dated April 7, 2016, pursuant to 49 
CFR part 573, Defect and Noncompliance Responsibility and Reports. BATO 
then petitioned NHTSA on May 5, 2016, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 30118(d) 
and 30120(h) and their implementing regulations at 49 CFR part 556, for 
an exemption from the notification and remedy requirements of 49 U.S.C. 
Chapter 301 on the basis that this noncompliance is inconsequential as 
it relates to motor vehicle safety.
    Notice of receipt of the petition was published, with a 30-day 
public comment period, on June 29, 2016, in the Federal Register (81 FR 
42394). No comments were received. To view the petition and all 
supporting documents log onto the Federal Docket Management System 
(FDMS) Web site at: http://www.regulations.gov/. Then follow the online 
search instructions to locate docket number ``NHTSA-2016-0066.''
    II. Tires Involved: Affected are approximately 1,167 Bridgestone 
VSB heavy-duty radial truck tires used mainly in a military 
application. Other instances include a few off-road logging 
applications and a single on-road snow plow vehicle for single load 
application. The affected tires were manufactured between April 5, 
2015, and March 30, 2016.
    III. Noncompliance: BATO stated that the subject tires are rated 
for both a single and a dual load and are marked with the proper 
maximum load rating and inflation pressure for a single load. However, 
they are not marked with the dual load information. As a result, the 
tires do not fully comply with paragraph S6.5(d) of FMVSS No. 119.
    IV. Rule Text: Paragraph S6.5(d) of FMVSS No. 119 provides, in 
pertinent part:

    S6.5 Tire markings. Except as specified in this paragraph, each 
tire shall be marked on each sidewall with the information specified 
in paragraphs (a) through (j) of this section . . .
    (d) The maximum load rating and corresponding inflation pressure 
of the tire, shown as follows:
    (Mark on tires rated for single and dual load): Max load single 
_ kg (_ lb) at _ Pa (_ psi) cold. Max load dual _ kg (_ lb) at _ kPa 
(_ psi) cold.
    (Mark on tires rated only for single load): Max load _ kg (_ lb) 
at _ kPa (_ psi) cold. . .

    V. Summary of BATO's Petition: BATO described the subject 
noncompliance and stated its belief that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety. BATO states that 
the subject tires meet or exceed all of the performance requirements of 
FMVSS No. 119. BATO also contends that the missing dual load 
information has no effect on the performance of the subject tires and 
that the subject tires were tested and passed at the single tire load, 
which is higher and more punishing than that of the dual tire load.
    BATO asserted that NHTSA has previously granted inconsequential 
noncompliance petitions similar to the subject noncompliance.
    BATO submitted a supplemental letter to the agency dated September 
23, 2016, which provided information about the use of the affected 
tires. BATO accounted for 100% of the affected tires as follows:
    1. BATO stated that approximately 90% of all affected tires were 
sold to a customer using the tires on an M911 Heavy Equipment 
Transporter (HET) used by the U.S. Army. The M911 HET uses the subject 
tires in dual-load configuration. The dual-load configuration is used 
on the third and fourth axles. BATO provided an excerpt of the U.S. 
Army Technical Manual for vehicle M911. In the manual, the vehicle 
manufacturer specifies the maximum load for the third and fourth tandem 
axles as 65,000 lbs. Because there are 8 tires total on these two 
axles, this corresponds to 8,125 lbs per tire. BATO further states that 
from the Tire and Rim Association (TRA) Year Book, the subject tires 
are rated for 9,410 lbs in dual-load applications when inflated to 85 
psi. Thus, in a maximum-load condition, the subject tires each have 
1,285 lbs of reserve load (nearly 14%) when used in the only known on-
road

[[Page 17068]]

dual-application positions on Axles 3 and 4 as stated by BATO.
    2. BATO stated that two tires were sent to a customer using the 
affected tires in a single-load application on a heavy-duty snowplow 
and that the proper maximum loading information for single-load is 
marked on the sidewall of the tire.
    3. BATO stated that about 10% of the subject tires were sold to 
customers that use these tires on private or unpaved roads. These 
customers are using the tires on logging trailers at forestry sites and 
on equipment trailers at oil exploration sites. In both cases, these 
off-road trailers are operated almost exclusively on unpaved, private 
roads, and are not considered to be ``motor vehicles'' as defined by 
the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. See 49 U.S.C. 30102(a)(6) which defines a 
``motor vehicle'' as one that is ``manufactured primarily for use on 
public streets, roads and highways''.
    BATO added that the subject tires are performing extremely well in 
the field. The subject tires have been in the market for up to 17 
months (manufactured dates range from April 5, 2015, to March 30, 
2016), and there is no indication of problems related to potential 
overload. BATO included that there have been no claims, lawsuits, 
adjustments, accidents, collisions or losses of control related to the 
subject tires.
    4. BATO states that NHTSA has previously granted petitions in which 
the ``dual'' maximum load information was marked incorrectly on the 
subject tires. BATO specifically cited Michelin 69 FR 62512; October 
26, 2004, and Michelin 71 FR 77092; December 22, 2006.
    BATO concluded by expressing the belief that the subject 
noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety, 
and that its petition to be exempted from providing notification of the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30118, and a remedy for the 
noncompliance, as required by 49 U.S.C. 30120, should be granted.

NHTSA's Decision

    NHTSA's Analysis: NHTSA agrees that the noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. However, NHTSA has some 
reservations about BATO's petition. NHTSA's analysis of BATO's points 
are described below:
    BATO asserted that NHTSA has previously granted inconsequential 
noncompliance petitions that are similar to the subject noncompliance. 
NHTSA responds that those petitions are not similar because they are 
cases involving specific conditions in which both the ``Single'' and 
``Dual'' loads were marked on the sidewall of the tire and the ``Dual'' 
loads were within the safety factor range associated for similar tires 
of its size. (See Michelin 71 FR 77092; Dec. 22, 2006, and Michelin 69 
FR 62512; October 26, 2004.)
    BATO states that the subject tires meet or exceed all of the 
performance requirements of FMVSS No. 119 which were tested and passed 
at the single tire load, which is higher and more punishing than that 
of the dual tire load. NHTSA does not find this to be a compelling 
argument. NHTSA does not agree that complying to the standard when 
tested in the manufacturer's single load specification negates the 
necessity for the tire to be properly marked with the correct dual load 
rating which, intentionally, is lower than the single load rating. The 
dual load rating is necessary to ensure a factor of safety during on 
road use conditions involving a dual-load configuration.
    What NHTSA finds relevant to a decision of inconsequential 
noncompliance is that the use of the subject tires is restricted to 
three specific cases: vehicles using the tires only in a single-load 
configuration; Vehicles the agency has determined to be off-road 
vehicles; and military vehicles. The analysis of each of these 
scenarios follows:
    First, BATO indicated that two of the subject tires were sold for 
use on a heavy-duty snowplow. The heavy-duty snowplow that uses these 
tires uses them exclusively in a single load application. The subject 
tires are marked properly on the sidewall for single load application 
and thus an end-user would be able to load the vehicle properly. 
Therefore, NHTSA agrees that in this specific case, the noncompliance 
is inconsequential to safety.
    Second, approximately 10% of the subject tires are used exclusively 
for off-road forestry logging and oil site exploration. In a letter 
dated July 25, 2011, NHTSA's Office of Chief Counsel communicated to 
the Michigan Association of Timbermen the following: ``NHTSA has issued 
several interpretations of this language. We have stated that vehicles 
equipped with tracks, agricultural equipment, and other vehicles 
incapable of highway travel are not motor vehicles. We have also 
determined that certain vehicles designed and sold solely for off-road 
use (e.g., airport runway vehicles and underground mining vehicles) are 
not motor vehicles, even if they may be operationally capable of 
highway travel.'' In light of this, NHTSA agrees that in the case of 
the subject tires, the noncompliance is inconsequential as it relates 
to motor vehicle safety because the tires are not used on public roads.
    Finally, approximately 90% of the subject tires were sold to the 
U.S. Army for use on M911 HET military vehicles. In this application, 
the M911 HET technical manual specifies the tire inflation pressure to 
be 85 psi and limits the tire loading to 8,125 lbs per tire due to the 
vehicle's axle design. BATO claims that the subject tires were designed 
and certified to meet a dual-load limit of 9,410 lbs at 85 psi, a fact 
corroborated by the TRA year book, and that each tire would have 1,285 
lbs of reserve load (nearly 14%). For these reasons, NHTSA believes 
that the subject tires have sufficient capacity for the expected loads 
during usage on the M911 HET military vehicles. Based on the 
restrictions within the military manual, the culture of the military to 
comply with such documentation, and the high level of maintenance that 
military vehicles receive, NHTSA further believes that these tires will 
not be used in an overloaded configuration. Therefore, the 
noncompliance is inconsequential to vehicle safety in this instance.
    NHTSA's Decision: In consideration of the foregoing, NHTSA finds 
that BATO has met its burden of persuasion that in these specific 
vehicle applications, the FMVSS No. 119 noncompliance is 
inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. Accordingly, BATO's petition 
is hereby granted and BATO is exempted from the obligation of providing 
notification of, and remedy for, the noncompliance.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 30118, 30120: delegations of authority at 
49 CFR 1.95 and 501.8.

Jeffrey M. Giuseppe,
Director, Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance.
[FR Doc. 2017-06952 Filed 4-6-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-59-P

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