The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is tasked with reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes. Among the responsibilities of the NHTSA is the duty to investigate safety defects in vehicles and compel auto manufacturers to recall vehicles that have dangerous defects or that do not comply with federal safety standards. The process by which defects are identified and analyzed and the process of having vehicles recalled have been criticized in recent years following a number of high-profile missteps. The new head administrator of the NHTSA identified improving these systems as his top priority.
Mark Rosekind was named the head of the NHTSA following a stint on the National Transportation Safety Board. He is a former NASA employee and is considered an expert on the effects of fatigue on transportation safety. He has not worked with auto companies in a direct capacity before now.
His lack of experience with the auto industry is seen by some as an advantage. He has made it clear that safety is his only concern and that he will be happy to work with auto companies, or presumably against them, if traffic safety can be improved. The recall process, in particular, has been criticized for the amount of autonomy vehicle manufacturers have in delaying or avoiding necessary action. Recalls are expensive and harmful to an auto maker’s reputation. These companies are often reluctant to issue a recall, even when a safety defect puts the lives of consumers at stake.
To be effective, the NHTSA must be interested in safety more than in currying favor with auto executives. Hopefully, the new administrator will help the NHTSA accomplish its safety mission and protect the lives of drivers and passengers throughout the nation.
Source: Tirebusiness.com, “NHTSA must improve defect analysis system — Rosekind,” by Ryan Beene, 8 January 2015