Legislation calling for strict safety-notification mandates on tire manufacturers was unveiled Sunday during news conferences held by Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds in Buffalo and Rochester.
The Clarence Republican is co-sponsoring a bill dubbed the "TREAD Act," an acronym for Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation, designed to toughen safety standards in the wake of about 100 deaths blamed on defects in Firestone tires mounted on Ford sport utility vehicles.
"During recent congressional hearings, we learned that Firestone was concerned about recalling tires sold overseas for fear they would have to notify federal regulators," said Reynolds, addressing the media in the Radisson Hotel in Cheektowaga. "That's irresponsible and outrageous, and the TREAD Act will make certain it never happens again.
"The deaths attributed to the problems with Firestone and Ford are a great tragedy that should never again be allowed to happen."
Under the legislation, tire manufacturers would be required to report defects in products sold overseas and require manufacturers to notify the U.S. secretary of transportation within five days of a safety recall in a foreign country.
Reynolds thinks that the bill has a chance to reach the House floor before Congress breaks for recess in mid-October.
"It's gaining momentum, and my hope is it has got enough national implications that maybe in the next couple of weeks we can get it out," he said. "This is common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will make consumers and our roadways safer."
Manufacturers also would be required to notify the transportation secretary upon learning of a "significant number" of serious injuries or fatalities from product sold outside the United States.
"I don't think anyone can support any company deliberately holding back information with knowledge that it will cause serious injury or death," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, the bill's sponsor. "We have good standards on products in this country. We don't want those standards to slip."
Other TREAD Act provisions would require that:
Manufacturers make periodic reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the number of injury or damage claims submitted to the manufacturer that are blamed on tire defects.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration update its safety-compliance standard, which was last done in 1968.
Manufacturers replace faulty tires for up to five years after their purchase, instead of the current three years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.