Automobile Safety Foundation

P.O. BOX 12183 • LA JOLLA, CA 92039-2183 •(858) 831-1871

October 05, 2000

To: The 49 State DMV Headquarters

For over thirty years most auto makers have equipped vehicles with spring-loaded steering locks, that have a hazardous design error, that combines the functions of engine deactivation/ key removal with steering lock activation. Most drivers have no steering lock operation knowledge whatsoever. The NHTSA has printed in the Federal Register, that they "continue to receive reports of property damage, serious injuries, and fatalities from inadvertent steering lockup." (General Motors has now converted most of their vehicles to an alternative anti-theft design, that eliminates the steering lock.)

In 1988, ASF a non-profit organization, help author a warning about "inadvertent lockup" in the California Driver Handbook, that the DMV also test on as part of driver’s license procedure. The warning reads as follows:

"Steering Wheel Locking Devices"

"Never turn your vehicle’s ignition to the "lock" position while it is still in motion. This will cause the steering to lock if you try to turn the steering wheel, and you will loose control of your vehicle."

ASF would like to request that every state DMV headquarters mandate the same, or similar warning, in their driver handbooks, as well as implementing testing on this warning, as part of driver license procedure.

ASF would appreciate a written response from the DMV offices, so we know that this urgent safety issues is being addressed. Thank you for your safety concerns