Matt Wald, Director of Government Affairs
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
1896 Preston White Dr.
P.O. Box 2999
Reston, VA 20195-0999
Dear Mr. Wald:
This responds to your letter to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Deputy Administrator James Ports asking whether recreation vehicles manufactured by your members are motor vehicles. Your letter has been referred to my office for reply. We apologize that we could not find the original correspondence you sent in August 2008.
You seek clarification that the appropriate jurisdiction over the class of vehicles known as recreation vehicles is with NHTSA and not with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). As explained below, recreation vehicles (RVs) that meet NHTSAs definition of a motor vehicle are motor vehicles under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (49 U.S.C. Chapter 30101, Vehicle Safety Act) and are subject to NHTSAs regulation. However, please note that this conclusion may or may not preclude HUD from regulating the vehicles as manufactured homes. That issue must be determined by HUD, and this letter makes no comment about HUDs authority to regulate the vehicles.
As you are aware, the Vehicle Safety Act authorizes NHTSA to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards applicable to new motor vehicles and new items of motor vehicle equipment. An RV is subject to the authority of this agency if it is a motor vehicle under the Act. Motor vehicle is defined in the Act (49 U.S.C. 30102(6)) as:
a vehicle driven or drawn by mechanical power and manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways, but does not include a vehicle operated only on a rail line.
In your letter, you stated that RVs include motor homes, fifth wheel trailers, travel trailers, folding camping trailers and truck campers. In an October 9, 2008 email to Ms. Dorothy Nakama of my staff, you further focused your question on RVs [that] are designed to be drawn by a vehicle without a special highway movement permit. I.e., they are designed and
built to be a vehicle used on a highway on a daily basis. The RVs you describe would meet the Vehicle Safety Acts definition of motor vehicle, and thus are regulated by NHTSA as motor vehicles. RVs include motor vehicles that are motor homes (vehicles with motive power) and recreation vehicle trailers (trailers designed to be drawn by a vehicle with motive power).
I hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Nakama at this address or by telephone at (202) 366-2992.
Anthony M. Cooke
 These vehicle types are defined in 49 CFR 571.3.