Fuel Smarts

NHTSA Wants to Know About Truck Defects

August 08, 2000

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants truckers to know that its "Auto Safety Hotline" isn't just for autos -- it's for all vehicles, including heavy trucks.

That's the message Larry Long is trying to get out to the trucking industry. It's his job to educate truckers about NHTSA - and to educate NHTSA about the trucking industry.
Long was added to NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation last year, and he's been working hard to get the message out.
"I've gotten some interesting complaints, things I feel are certainly worth investigating," he says. "I think it will be a matter of time before I get more of those types of complaints coming in."
Established in 1975, the Auto Safety Hotline is NHTSA's single point of contact, where you can get information about motor vehicle safety and vehicle safety defects. If your truck has a problem you suspect is a manufacturing defect, you can talk to a consultant, who will file a report on your vehicle's safety problem and give you recall information. The information is sent to the Office of Defects Investigations, of which Long is a member. If the office finds defects in the design, manufacture or performance, the vehicle could be recalled for repairs.
However, most truckers aren't aware of this. Long says most truckers think because he's with the government, he's involved in enforcement. "We're not concerned with whether your headlights are out or your tires are bald," he says. "We're concerned about items that come apart or break off, that are more related to the manufacturer's responsibility."
The hotline number is 1-888-327-4236. Or you can file your vehicle complaint online at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hotline. If neither the hotline nor the web site meets your needs, Long encourages truckers to call him directly at (202) 366-6281.

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