Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Letter Received From the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Letter From The U.S. Department Of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Dated August 14, 2008

Address 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Mr. Melancon

Thank you for your recent letter to Senator Jim Webb regarding the dangers unhitched utility trailers pose to road safety and the lack of government regulations on hitch systems.

Your letter has been forwarded to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Our mission at NHTSA is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce traffic related health care and other economic costs. The agency develops, promotes, and implements effective educational , engineering, and enforcement programs directed toward reducing preventable tragedies and safety - related economic costs associated with vehicle use and highway travel.

This is accomplished in part by establishing end enforcing Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSSs) for motor vehicle and motor vehicle equipment (e.g., tires) and by conducting investigations of consumer complaints about motor vehicle defects, which could lead to a recall.

The agency has safety standards for equipment on utility trailers, such as tires and lights, however, no safety standards exist for utility trailer hitches . Despite the lack of existing standards for utility trailer hitches, all 50 States have regulations regarding the operation of small trailers, such as maximum towing speed, maximum trailer length and width, and weight requiring trailer brakes, among other things. The States also provide guidelines with basic information on how to safely tow a trailer.


The Agency's crash databases include data on all fatal crashes and a sampling of non-fatal
crashes that occur across the United States. These crash databases are the agency's primary
sources for determining the magnitude of a safety problem. In addition, the agency maintains a
database on consumer complaints concerning defects of motor vehicles and motor vehicle
equipment. These databases contain crashes involving vehicles with reported unhitching of the
trailer. Upon closer inspection, we believe that many of these crashes involve consumer error in
hitching the trailer to the towing vehicle and thus do not indicate a safety problem with the
hitches themselves. The agency will continue to monitor the crash data and consumer complaints
on hitches and will take appropriate enforcement action if necessary.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further questions, please contact me or Mr.
Ronald L. Medford, Senior Associate Administrator for Vehicle Safety at 202-336-1810.

Sincerely yours,


James F. Potts, Jr.


Ron's notes:

I simply do not understand the total lack of understanding of my original letter. My original letter
also asked for specific information which this agency did not fulfill.

I asked...
Someone from NHSTA contacted me and told me to ask you what I need.

Back in 2003 you reported that 57,000 crashes involving passenger vehicles towing trailers
occur annually, according to a five year averages of accidents analysis by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Association. In 2003 alone.. accidents resulted in 364 deaths, 14,484 injuries and
40,080 instances of Property Damage. Both the numbers of deaths and property damages increased
in 2003 from the previous year.

In the year 2004

You reported more than 65,000 crashes involving passenger vehicles towing trailers occurred in 2004,
jumping nearly 20 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety
Association. In 2004 alone, accidents of vehicles with a trailing unit resulted in 422 deaths, 27,332
injuries and 46,737 instances of Property Damage.

After 2004 I can't find any more numbers. You stopped keeping track. What I am asking for is the
same numbers as above for the year 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Why is NHSTA unwilling to provide this information.

The letter also indicates "Despite the lack of existing
standards for utility trailer hitches, all 50 States have regulations regarding the operation of small
trailers, such as maximum towing speed, maximum trailer length and width, and weight
requiring trailer brakes, among other things. The States also provide guidelines with basic
information on how to safely tow a trailer.

They do not!!!!!! They do not address the homemade trailers and here is just two samples from
Idaho and Virginia....

IDAHO AS REPORTED BY:

BY DAVID KENNARD - dkennard@idahostatesman.com
Edition Date: 06/12/08
"In Idaho, there are no regulations that deal with private individuals and towing," said ISP spokesman Rick Ohnsman.

VIRGINIA AS REPORTED BY THE VCU CRASH TEAM

"HOWEVER, VIRGINIA STATE CODE IS SILENT AS TO ANY DESIGN OR
CONSTRUCTION SPECIFICATIONS FOR THOSE VEHICLES OR FOR TOWING
CHAINS AND HITCHES. The purpose of this TECHNICAL ALERT is to draw attention
to the POTENTIAL dangers of unsafe trailers on roadways in the Commonwealth. In many
cases, towed trailers may be in OBVIOUS violations of safety codes that relate to lighting,
braking and inspection requirements. Wherever possible, LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS
should be trained in ways to quickly and easily identify such vehicles. In other cases, a trailer
may meet all legal requirements but still be hazardous when used in transportation. THE TEAM
RECOMMENDS THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES, THE DEPARTMENT
OF STATE POLICE AND OR MEMBERS OF THE VIRGINIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
REVIEW THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATIVE CODE AND CONSIDER WAYS TO
IMPROVE SAFETY WITH REGARD TO TRAILERS OPERATED ON VIRGINIA ROADS.

Based on my findings 48 States are not following the standards that NHSTA indicated
that they do.

Once again we have a FEDERAL agency that says they are doing something but in the end are not
really doing anything with UTILITY TRAILER regulations. Who is failing who?

Examples... When I was a child our car seat was the arm... then the child car seat was invented.
At first they were hard to install so they improved.. they added a tether then came the two little
hooks in the seat cushion which as made installing much easier.

The the Seat Belt.... first it was a lap belt,,, then came the 3 point then now a little light comes on
every 5 to 10 seconds to keep reminding you to fasten your belt.

The point is we improved to make it easier for the consumer to comply.

Quote "Upon closer inspection, we believe that many of these crashes involve consumer error in
hitching the trailer to the towing vehicle and thus do not indicate a safety problem with the
hitches themselves."

So we have NOT improved the hitch systems since 1959. If over 85,000 accidents are occuring now
every year because "Consumer ERRORS" then in my book we have a problem.

If 85,000 consumers were having accidents with Child's Car seats flying through the car would that
not indicate a problem.

In closing just like the FDA... with the recent Tomato recalls that took 3 months to find out we have
an agency that is not addressing this issue.

Sincerely,


Ron J. Melancon

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