SAN ANTONIO — The federal agency responsible for vehicle and component recalls visited the bus industry at Motorcoach Expo 2018 to seek a proactive relationship in its passenger safety efforts.
“We wanted to be here today and make connections with you in our agency and have a working relationship in the future if there are defects,” said Ryan Rahimpour, safety defects engineer in the Office of Defects Investigation at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Washington, D.C.
“I am the main contact for motorcoaches and transit and school buses. If there is a problem, if you need assistance, I will be glad to work with you.”
Rahimpour described the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) and his agency’s requirements for manufacturer defect reporting. The standards regulate the design, manufacture, performance and durability of motor vehicles and safety-related components.
“Our job is to verify if defects related to motor vehicle safety pose an unreasonable risk and make sure information about recalls is readily available to the public,” he said.
“There are two types of safety defects. Noncompliance is when a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment does not meet one or more federal safety standards. The second type is when a defect in performance or construction of a motor vehicle or its components can cause accidents, deaths and injuries,” he said.
Rahimpour noted that the final assembler of components made by itself or suppliers is considered the manufacturer of the vehicle and responsible for reporting defects and directing remediation.
“Manufacturers by law are required to furnish a copy of safety defect and noncompliance reports to NHTSA within the first five days of noticing an issue,” he said.
He reminded operators that the safety records of their vehicles can be examined at the government website safercar.gov. A search by vehicle identification number (VIN) will provide any safety recalls or service bulletins associated with that vehicle.
NHTSA assigns a higher priority to potential defects on vehicles that carry passengers rather than property, Rahimpour said.
“We don’t have enough resources to address all of them, so we prioritize depending on the sensitivity of the problem. Motorcoaches and buses have a lot of sensitivity because there are people in those vehicles,” he said.