Dangerous products make their way to consumers in virtually every industry. Consumer goods, including food, medicine, toys, electronics and motor vehicles, have the potential to cause serious harm when they are not handled properly. Defective cars and trucks kill people every year. The number of defective vehicles on the roads at any given time is staggering. The task of identifying safety defects and responding to them falls to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2014, the NHTSA saw roughly 64 million vehicles recalled. It has a defects team with fewer than 30 employees.
The number of recalled vehicles suggests that more personnel might be needed to respond. The length of time taken to respond to safety concerns underscores the importance of a larger staff. Recent recalls have taken a decade from the earliest reports to the time vehicles are called off the roads and into repair shops. That is unacceptable to anyone who cares about auto safety.
The White House is proposing a budget increase that would enable the NHTSA to nearly double the size of the defects team. It would allow the NHTSA to hire new investigators and respond more quickly to complaints from consumers about unsafe vehicles. It would be the first time the team was expanded in a decade. It would also see the budget allocated for vehicle and research programs to rise from $269 million to $414 million by 2021. This could help close what some perceive as a gap between the level of understanding exhibited by the NHTSA and the cutting edge of automotive technology.
Source: The Detroit News, “White House seeks to nearly triple NHTSA defect budget,” by David Shepardson, 2 February 2015