We frequently write about the actions of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As the federal agency most directly tasked with ensuring the safety of the nation’s roadway travelers, the priorities, values, actions and inactions of the NHTSA affect nearly every American at one time or another. It is ultimately important to keep abreast of this agency’s evolution because the NHTSA directly influences the safety or lack of safety that the nation’s motorists, cyclists and pedestrians are subject to on a regular basis.
Over the past few years, the NHTSA has become the subject of criticism from lawmakers, safety organizations and the public. Although the agency does a great deal of good, it has become apparent that it is not as effective in its capacity as a watchdog as the public needs it to be. Over the past few years, the agency has failed to “catch” several potentially fatal defect matters before they had resulted in the loss of numerous lives.
In response to this legitimate criticism, the NHTSA has determined that it will prioritize becoming a more effective watchdog. It has announced proposals related to strengthening its workforce focused on defect investigations. It has also announced that the agency will be instituting a new internal Risk Control Innovations Program aimed at tackling safety matters through the coordination of several departments.
The fact that tragedy has informed this shift in priorities and policies is frustrating to say the least. However, the fact that the NHTSA is now working to become a more effective watchdog will hopefully help to prevent similar tragedies from striking in the future.
Source: Detroit Free Press, “NHTSA adding teeth to improve auto safety watchdog status,” Alisa Priddle, June 5, 2015