Photo: Michelin

Photo: Michelin

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has denied a petition filed by the American Trucking Associations that seeks to remove a provision of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations regarding tire inflation. However, the agency said it will work with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to address the group's concerns when it comes to enforcement of the rule.

According to Fleet Maintenance & Technology, the publication of ATA's Technology & Maintenance Council, ATA had filed the petition to remove 49 CFR 393.75(h), "Tire inflation pressure," in January 2014.

The filing was based on input from TMC, which found that determining tire underinflation during a roadside inspection to be a nearly impossible task for law enforcement, given the complexity of the many issues surrounding inflation, such as tire pressure and vehicle load.

The petition asked to amend the rules so that underinflated tires would only be cited for violating 393.75(a)(3), which pertains to running flat or having an audible leak.

ATA said the regulation as currently written doesn't say what the tire pressure is when a tire is considered to be flat or underflated -- only that the vehicle should not be operated when the tire pressure is less than that specified for the load being carried. In 2011, CVSA asked TMC to define "underinflation," but the group was unable to reach a consensus.

"I can't determine what the load on the tire is, I don't know how long it has been running, or even how long it might have been sitting still at the scale waiting for an inspection," said Keri Wirachowsky, enforcement officer with Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation. She raised the point at a TMC meeting during an S.2 Task Force session exploring alternatives to the current regulation.

FMCSA said it agreed with ATA that proper measurement of tire inflation pressure during a roadside inspection is dependent on many factors that are difficult to apply consistently and uniformly, but it did not think eliminating the problem section of the rules was the answer.

Instead, FMCSA said it will work with CVSA's Vehicle Committee to ensure roadside inspection officials are properly trained and aware of established regulatory guidance.

"Practically speaking, vehicle operators should not receive a violation for underinflated tires at roadside," explained Robert Braswell, TMC executive director, in the article, "because CVSA has stated officially in its inspector guidelines that '393.75(h) should not be written for an underinflated tire. A violation of 393.75(f) should only be written when the opporutity to weigh a vehicle is present, and the weight on the tire exceeds the tire load carrying capacity (as printed on the sidewall of the tire.')"

For a more in-depth explanation of the issue: ATA asks FMCSA to Eliminate Tire Underinflation Violation