LEGISLATIVE AND TECHNICAL AFFAIRS
Law and Order
New Hampshire Year-of-Manufacture Plates: Legislation to expand the range of vehicles eligible to use original year-of-manufacture license plates on antique motor vehicles was signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan. Under previous law, only ’60-and-earlier model-year antique vehicles were eligible to use these plates. Under the new law, eligibility would be expanded to include all ’75-and-earlier model years. However, the number on the antique plate must not be in use on another motor vehicle, motorcycle or trailer.
Michigan Automotive Heritage: The Michigan State Senate adopted a resolution commemorating August 2014 as Automotive Heritage Month in the state. This action followed U.S. Senate Resolution 493, which designated July 11, 2014, as Collector Car Appreciation Day and was requested by SEMA to raise awareness of the vital role automotive restoration and collection plays in American society. Michigan is home to the world-famous Woodward Dream Cruise. According to the resolution, the Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day celebration of classic-car culture, attracting more than 1 million visitors and more than 40,000 musclecars, street rods, custom, collector and special-interest vehicles to Michigan every year. This year’s cruise took place on August 16.
Rhode Island Replica License Plates: A bill to authorize the Division of Motor Vehicles to issue replica year-of-manufacture plates for antique vehicles was signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee. In Rhode Island, an antique motorcar is any motor vehicle that is more than 25 years old. Unless fully inspected and meeting inspection requirements, the vehicle may be maintained solely for use in exhibitions, club activities, parades and other functions of public interest and may not be used primarily for the transportation of passengers or goods over any public highway.
Tire Aging: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not intend to issue a federal safety standard based on tire age. The agency announced its decision in a report entitled “Tire Aging: A Summary of NHTSA’s Work.” The agency has been studying the issue for many years. The NHTSA cited several primary factors for not pursuing a tire-aging safety standard. It noted that tires have become more robust in recent years as a result of increased performance mandates required under the Transportation Safety Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act of 2000. Recent crash data verify that these tires are performing better on the road. The agency also credited mandatory tire-pressure monitoring systems installed on newer vehicles as having helped alert motorists when tires are underinflated. NHTSA intends to discuss the topic through social media messages, fact sheets, infographics and other web content.
Endangered Species Act: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to reform aspects of the Endangered Species Act. The legislation would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release data used to make listings of threatened or endangered animals and plants; require that state data be included in the calculations when making such determinations; report how much money is spent on Endangered Species Act-related lawsuits; and place reasonable caps on attorney fees. The bill has been sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration. Despite agreeing that the current law is flawed, Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked on how to comprehensively update the 40-year-old Endangered Species Act. Millions of acres of land have been set aside to protect threatened or endangered animals and plants, with few tangible results. Scores of off-highway-vehicle roads and trails have been unnecessarily closed as a consequence. SEMA supports an alternative approach that focuses on establishing and managing smaller recovery zones.
Tire Identification Numbers: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed two changes for the tire identification number (TIN) that appears on all new and retreaded motor vehicle tires sold in the United States. The TIN helps consumers and industry members identify tires when they are subject to recall. The first change would expand the two-symbol code to three symbols, since the NHTSA is running out of two-symbol codes for identifying specific tire plants. The second change would standardize the length of the TIN to eliminate confusion that may arise from the current variable lengths. The new length would be 13 symbols for new tires and seven symbols for retreaded tires.