NHTSA Completes Feasibility Report on Mandatory Tire Identification

In December of 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. One of the mandates of the FAST Act was the creation of a report by the Secretary of Transportation to determine how feasible it would be to require tire manufacturers selling in the U.S. to include electronic identification in every tire sold.

Three-and-a-half years later, the feasibility study is finished. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently presented Congress with a report entitled, “Electronic Tire Identification Study.” The study, which had input from the U.S.-based Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), concluded that the technology is available (either via RFID tags or 2D barcodes), but that a single technology platform must be used to prevent the kind of lack of interoperability chaos that has resulted in other government-mandated technology projects (think electronic medical records).

The goal of tire identification is primarily safety.  Applications for RFID tagging new tires will help confirm that a particular tire was manufactured by a specific company as well as monitor how long each tire has been used and how, so it can be inspected, maintained or replaced before it creates a safety hazard. Advocates also maintain that a standardized tire identification system would make recalls more efficient and effective. Unsurprisingly, the industry is calling them “smart tires.”

“A smart tire, containing an embedded tag encoded with a unique identification number, can be tracked around the world to the customer who buys each tire, as well as to maintenance personnel who service or manage tires on vehicles,” wrote Claire Swedberg for RFID Journal.

The feasibility study concluded that to achieve standard information content and a format data collection and storage with the highest efficiency, tire manufacturers should include the tire identification number (TIN) data locally within the ID tag. TINs themselves are already standardized, so encoding the TIN directly in the identification tag would ensure a uniform data format.