NHTSA's "Auto Safety Hotline" isn't just for autos - it's for all vehicles. That's the message Larry Long is trying to get out to the trucking industry. Long was added to NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigations earlier this year when truck safety started becoming a big issue in Congress. It's his job to educate truckers about NHTSA - and to educate NHTSA about the trucking industry.
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 ODI. If the office finds defects in the design, manufacture or performance of cars and trucks, the vehicle could be recalled for repairs.
However, most truckers aren't aware of this, says Long. Last year, out of 20,000 call-ins to the agency for safety-related complaints, only seven were Class 8 trucks. "When I talk to truckers, they've never heard of NHTSA," he says. "When I tell them I'm with the government, they assume I'm with Federal Highway. We're not concerned with whether your headlights are out or your tires are bald. 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 http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/hotline. You can also get information on service bulletins, current complains, recalls and ongoing investigations.
If neither the hotline nor the web site meets your needs, Long encourages truckers to call him directly at (202) 366-6281.