The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a press release urging vehicle owners “to take immediate action when notified of a safety defect.”
While the release was aimed at automobile owners, I think it is applicable to owners of commercial vehicles as well. According to NHTSA, “In 2019 there were 966 recalls that affected more than 53 million vehicles and items of motor vehicle equipment in the U.S.”
You should be receiving notifications of safety recalls and service campaigns from the vehicle and component manufacturers. However, it is also a good idea to regularly check for those recalls and campaigns. That check should be a standard part of your maintenance process.
Taking care of items affected by recalls and campaigns helps ensure that the vehicles in your fleet are safe. “While not all recalls are high profile, all recalls are important,” the NHTSA reminded us in the release.
I think that is true; anything that affects the safe operation of a vehicle needs some attention from fleet management. While you should be doing this because you are concerned about the overall safety of your fleet, in this age of nuclear verdicts you don’t want to give plaintiff’s attorneys any ammunition to use against you. It is quite conceivable that if you have an outstanding recall or service campaign at the time one of your vehicles is in an accident, that the plaintiff’s attorney will try to use that to demonstrate your lack a concern for safety.
If you are not already using the NHTSA Recall Lookup Tool to check for open recalls, I suggest you start doing that each time a vehicle is in for a PM service. By simply inputting the vehicle’s VIN, you will be able to see any open recalls that apply to the specific vehicle.
Being proactive about the condition of the vehicles in your fleet can help keep your equipment, our drivers and other drivers on the road safe. The benefits far outweigh the time it will take you to check for recalls and campaigns.
Jane Clark focuses on managing the member services operation at NationaLease as vice president of member services. She works to strength member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups.