August 2003

Disappearing Act for Federal Scrappage Program
SEMA has been working quietly behind the scenes to defeat yet another
proposal for federally funded scrappage programs. In this instance, the
U.S. Department of Transportation has asked Congress to authorize
federal funding of state scrappage programs when lawmakers revise the
law governing highways. It now appears unlikely Congress will address
the issue for at least one or two years.
This is a familiar topic for most readers. Last year, through the
considerable grassroots efforts of the SAN, SEMA successfully defeated a
provision to establish a national program to scrap vehicles older than 15
years that was included in a Senate energy bill. Lawmakers received a
flood of phone calls, faxes, e-mails and letters from SEMA Action Network
members. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) then sponsored an
amendment to eliminate the provision from the energy bill that was passed
by unanimous consent.
"Here we go again. Every year or two a lawmaker comes up with the lame
idea that scrapping old cars will clean the air or improve gas mileage,"
said Stuart Gosswein, SEMA Government Affairs Manager. "We have
always been successful in educating our federal lawmakers that these
programs are not cost effective. In fact, well-maintained older vehicles are
not significant pollution contributors and most scrapped vehicles are
rarely-operated second or third vehicles that have minimal impact on air
quality. Nevertheless, the same old idea keeps getting recycled."  
In this year's variation on a theme, the law that authorizes highway
programs is set to expire, and Congress wants to take the opportunity to
update it to reflect new changes in technology, safety and other issues.
Along those lines, the Department of Transportation has recommended
that Congress remove the long-standing prohibition against federally
funded scrappage programs that is part of the Congestion Mitigation and
Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), which pays for things like bike
paths, carpool lanes, and computer parking lots.
SEMA is working with a coalition of other aftermarket trade associations
urging Congress to keep the CMAQ ban in place. SEMA has received a
pledge from Senate leaders to do so and is now seeking a similar
commitment from House leaders. 
Congress intended to begin marking up the highway legislation later this
summer, but that appears unlikely at this time. Because there is such a
wide gap in the amount of money lawmakers want to spend on highways
versus how much money is in the federal budget, there is a good chance
lawmakers will simply continue funding highway programs at current levels
and defer action on "reauthorizing" the highway law for another year or
two. That means the federal ban on using CMAQ funds for scrappage
programs will remain in place.
SEMA will continue to make sure this proposal goes nowhere and will alert
our SEMA Action Network members of any changes in circumstance.
Missouri Governor Vetoes SEMA Model Street Rod Bill
Citing the expense to the state of additional specialty license plates,
Governor Bob Holden of Missouri vetoed a bill that included SEMA-
drafted provisions to expand the titling and registration class for street rods
and create a custom vehicle class. The bill had passed overwhelmingly by
the Missouri Legislature. Unfortunately, the SEMA provisions were
attached to other bills, unrelated to the street rod/custom sections, that
created a slate of new special license plate options.
The SEMA provisions exempted rods and customs from periodic
inspections and emissions tests. It also allowed for the use of non-original
materials and created a titling criterion that assigned these vehicles the
same model year designation as the production vehicle it most closely
resembled. Had it been signed into law, Missouri would have joined Illinois
among states that have enacted the SEMA bill. New York and Rhode
Island also introduced the SEMA model legislation this year.
California Exhaust Noise Testing Program Slated To Begin In July
The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) planned to begin
operation of its exhaust noise testing program in July. The BAR will issue a
regulation later this year to provide for the cost to consumers for
performing the test. However, tests performed prior to the official
establishment of the testing fee will be free to consumers. The program is
a product of a SEMA-sponsored law that requires smog check stations
that provide referee functions to perform exhaust noise testing. Referee
stations will issue certificates of compliance for vehicles when tests of
their exhaust systems demonstrate that they emit no more than 95
decibels, under SAE test procedure J1169. Only those vehicles that have
received a citation for an exhaust noise violation will be permitted to
submit their vehicle for the test. The law also allows courts to dismiss
citations for exhaust systems that have been tested and for which a
certificate of compliance has been issued. SEMA is working with BAR to
publicize the program and will publish a list of testing sites and other
critical details as that information become available.
"This new testing program forces compliance with an objectively
measured standard in a fair and predictable test," said SEMA Senior
Director of Government and Technical Affairs Steve McDonald. "Through
this procedure, motorists who drive vehicles legally equipped with modified
exhaust systems can confirm that they comply with California's exhaust
noise standards. For years, the enforcement policy used by police officers
deemed nearly all exhaust system modifications illegal, even where the
noise levels were not excessive or unusual. That policy left exhaust
system manufacturers, dealers and their customers without recourse." 
McDonald noted that "Motorists who modify their vehicles for durability,
appearance and performance prefer aftermarket exhaust systems. By
establishing this evenhanded testing process, this law will serve to benefit
consumers who favor these state-of-the-art products, the aftermarket
industry that markets them and even police officers who are charged with
enforcing the law."
Legislative Quick Hits
NHTSA Reports On Rollover And Vehicle Compatibility: The National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued two reports
summarizing the agency's future approach for addressing vehicle
incompatibility and rollovers. Most of the recommendations have been
widely discussed within the industry, including strengthening the side-
impact and roof crush resistance standards, relying on side airbag
curtains, electronic stability controls, improved door latches and road-
departure warning systems, and limiting the height of headlamps to reduce
Senate Committee Approves Auto Safety Mandates: The Senate
Commerce Committee passed a bill that, if enacted into law, would impose
a series of new safety requirements on automakers. NHTSA and the auto
industry have already discussed implementing most of the directives --
such as strengthening the roof crush standard and requiring side air bags
-- but the Senate bill would impose quicker compliance deadlines and
remove the possibility of developing voluntary industry standards rather
than mandatory rules. This Senate Committee has previously signaled
concern that NHTSA and automakers have not been aggressive enough
in responding to safety concerns. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether the
full Senate and House of Representatives will adopt the proposals.
NHTSA Addresses Most Hobbyist Concerns About New Tire Rules: In
final regulations issued by the NHTSA, the agency agreed with arguments
put forth last summer by SEMA and several SEMA-member companies
that bias-ply tires should continue to be regulated under current federal
standards (FMVSS Nos. 109, 119), not the newly created federal standard
(FMVSS No. 139), which has stricter performance requirements. These
bias tires are used on antique/classic cars, and also have racing and off-
road applications. SEMA noted that there is no safety reason for
subjecting these tires to a stricter standard. Meanwhile, the associated
costs and possible design changes needed to meet the tougher rule could
have eliminated these hobbyist tires from the marketplace. NHTSA
intends to regulate limited production radial tires under FMVSS No. 139,
Latest News For Roadless Rule: The Bush Administration announced that
it would continue to enforce the Clinton-era roadless rule in 58.5 million
acres of national forest lands. Simultaneously, it released a draft plan that
would allow governors to seek exemptions from the rule to address health
and safety issues such as reducing the risk of wildfires. Roads could also
be constructed to provide access to private property or help maintain
existing infrastructure. Exemptions would not be granted for lands
identified as national monuments, national recreation areas or wilderness
study areas. To put the numbers in perspective, the roadless rule affects
31 percent of the total Forest Service landbase, or 2 percent of all U.S.
lands. The rule is of interest to off-roaders since it potentially restricts OHV
access to public lands.
In related news, several lawsuits are working their way through the courts
challenging the validity of the roadless rule. Meanwhile, legislation has
been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate to turn the rule into a
law (without incorporating the Bush Administration's proposed
exemptions). There has been no action on the legislation to date.
Letters to the Editor
Dear Sirs,
I always agree with your stance on driver's rights. However, in a recent
issue of "Driving Force," the item about the South Carolina headlamps
caught my eye. [SEMA convinced the South Carolina Legislature to
abandon legislation that would have prohibited the operation of motor
vehicles with colored or tinted headlamps, since the bill failed to make an
exception for certain lighting equipment including bulbs carrying a slight
bluish tint that are certified to federal standards or federally compliant high-
intensity discharge lamps that emit a bluish hue. -- Ed.]
I'd have to say that I'm for the law! Anyone with a previous head injury or
seizures can tell you how the lights can really bother your eyes, give you
headaches or nausea. It's more a safety issue than a rights issue.
Alan Greenberg
Warwick, RI
Mr. Greenberg, thank you for your letter. We agree that today's
headlamps are brighter and generally have a wider beam pattern than
headlamps that existed before 1970. However, it's important to remember
that federal standards require that headlamps meet the same intensity
requirements for glare as they have had to meet for the last 30 years.
Legal high-intensity-discharge (HID) lamps produce more light than
halogen lamps, allowing the driver to see more clearly and concentrate
better. They also use less power and generally have a longer life span.
Nevertheless, some drivers may perceive that HID headlamps produce
more glare than halogen headlamps having the exact same measured
intensity, as was demonstrated in a recent study. One reason may be that
drivers instinctively look directly at something with which they are
unfamiliar. We are convinced that this reaction will disappear as the light
source becomes more familiar and caution that unnecessary regulation
would limit the increased safety and utility features of these lamps. We are
aware that other factors contributing to glare include the amount of dirt on
the headlamps and windshield of the vehicle, misaimed headlights,
whether the driver is wearing eyeglasses (extra lens) and impaired vision.
Any one of these factors can have a significant effect on perceived glare
and should be accounted for in deliberations on this issue.
Replacement bulbs that do not conform to federal standards are a
different matter. SEMA believes that government officials should work with
lighting industry manufacturers and state-level enforcement personnel to
develop a consistent and street-enforceable means to distinguish
compliant lamps from non-compliant lamps. Proper enforcement could
have a big effect on alleviating the headaches and nausea you may be
experiencing because of these illegal bulbs.
-- Steve McDonald, Senior
Director, Government and Technical Affairs
SEMA Action Network Club Events
August 2-3, Prescott
PAAC Car Show and Swap Meet
Sponsor: Prescott Antique Auto Club
Information: 928/778-5386
August 22-23, Pleasanton
17th Goodguys West Coast Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876
September 14, Palos Verdes
11th Annual Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance
Sponsor: Acura
Information: 310/783-3165
August 29-30, Morgan Hill
AACA Western Division National Fall Meet
Sponsor: Valle del Sur Region, AACA
Information: 831/637-3453
September 5-7, Colorado Springs
8th Colorado Classic
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876
August 3, Union
13th Annual Vintage Transport Extravaganza
Sponsor: Illinois Railway Museum
Information: 262/697-7474
September 13, Carol Stream
Colony Park Classic Car & Craft Show
Sponsor: Buick Club of America, Chicagoland Chapter
Information: 630/665-6069
September 21, LaGrange Park
3rd Annual Antique Car Show
Sponsor: Chicagoland Chapters of the Buick, Pontiac and Chrysler Clubs
Information: 708/482-6673
September 27-28, Bloomington
21st Annual Thunderbird Rendezvous
Sponsor: Land of Lincoln Thunderbird Club
Information: 309/452-6481
August 14-17, Cedar Rapids
AACA Annual Grand National Meet
Sponsor: Antique Automobile Club of America
Information: 717/534-1910
September 19-21, Kansas City
2nd Mid-Western Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876
July 31-August 3, Louisville
34th Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
Information: 901/452-4030
August 16, Detroit area
9th Annual Woodward Dream Cruise
Sponsor: Eaton Automotive
Information: 248/288-4694
September 12-14, Kalamazoo
24th Annual Street Rod Nationals North
Sponsor: NSRA
Information: 901/452-4030
August 22-24, Springfield
36th Annual Swap Meet and Car Corral
Sponsor: Ozarks Antique Auto Club
Information: 417-993-4660
August 3-10, Reno
18th Annual Hot August Nights
Sponsor: Hot August Nights
Information: 775/356-1956
August 8-9, Ely
10th Annual White Pine Rodders Car Show
Sponsor: White Pine Rodders
Information: 775/289-8888
September 12-14, Rhinebeck
12th East Coast Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876
August 24, Gresham
18th All Pontiac Car Show and Swap Meet
Sponsor: Pacific NW Pontiac Club
Information: 503/668-5416
September 6-7, Sandy
Sandy Oktoberfest Car Show
Sponsor: Oregon Council of Vehicle Associations
Information: 503/668-4096
August 24, Rothsville
14th Annual A Taste of Britain
Sponsor: Lanco MG Club
Information: 717/292-0579
September 5-7, Rapid City
15th Annual National Dodge Charger Meet
Sponsor: The Dodge Charger Registry
Information: 605/484-0343
August 9-10, Ft. Worth
14th Annual Yellow Rose Classic Southwest All Ford Nationals
Sponsor: North Texas Mustang Club
Information: 817/595-6900
August 9, Clearfield
10th Annual Under the Stars Car Show
Sponsor: Wasatch Rods & Customs
Information: 801/546-0926
September 19-21, Burlington
10th Annual Northeast Street Rod Nationals
Sponsor: NSRA
Information: 901/452-4030
August 15-17, Oak Harbor
15th Annual National Dodge Charger Meet
Sponsor: The Dodge Charger Registry
Information: 206/306-0581
August 15-17, Spokane
2nd Great Northwestern Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876
August 9, Green Bay
12th Annual Denil-Wall Oldsmobile Show
Sponsor: Oldsmobile Club of Wisconsin
Information: 920/465-1502
August 17, Waukesha
25th Anniversary Car Show in the Park
Sponsor: Waukesha Old Car Club
Information: 262/392-9353
September 26-28, Waukesha
14th Great Lakes Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
Information: 925/838-9876