NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Many truck manufacturing defects go unreported and unfixed because fleets are more likely to take the issues up directly with the manufacturer than report the problem to the government.
That was the message from Bruce York, who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Office of Defects Investigation. He was speaking to a gathering at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s spring meeting. York’s office is responsible for identifying manufacturing defects and managing vehicle recalls.
The Office of Defects Investigation receives about 80,000 complaints a year, but York said heavy trucks are underrepresented. He noted there are about nine million trucks on the road in the US and yet his office receives just 600 commercial vehicle-related complaints each year.
“That’s a huge problem for us,” York said, adding commercial vehicles make up 3.52% of the total vehicle population in the US yet generate just 1.3% of complaints.
York’s feeling is that most fleets, when they identify a manufacturing defect, prefer to work directly with the manufacturer to resolve the issue. But this leaves many affected vehicles – especially those owned by smaller companies that don’t enjoy the same leverage with the manufacturers – running vehicles that still contain the defect.
“It’s the other fleets’ truck that doesn’t get fixed that’s going to crash and kill one of your family members or friends,” York warned. “Go ahead and use that leverage you have with the manufacturer, get your trucks fixed, but at the same time reach out to contact us and let us know about the defect so we can get all the trucks fixed so no one gets hurt and killed.”
York said some fleets may be reluctant to report defects to NHTSA for fear their trucks will be placed out of service, but he said NHTSA doesn’t have the authority to ban vehicles, only to issue recalls.
To report a manufacturing defect and initiate an investigation, visit www.SaferTruck.gov or call 888-327-4236.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies