“The GM ignition switch has triggered change at NHTSA,” said agency administrator Mark Rosekind, who met with reporters recently in Detroit. He also said he wants the agency to have a “more direct, clear emphasis” on “safety, safety, safety,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
It’s familiar rhetoric from an agency that says its mission is to save lives, prevent injuries and reduce crashes, but is now under pressure to crack down on the auto industry and fix internal problems identified last month in the Inspector General’s audit of the agency. Consequently, Rosekind is trying to convince Congress and the public that the agency needs more money to do its work and more workers within the NHTSA ranks to be effective.
The audit found NHTSA provide “too little guidance to automakers, seldom tried to verify information it received, and let dangerous problems persist under a convoluted, overworked system”, said the Freep.
The audit was initiated as a result direct result of the delayed recall of the ignition switch defect found reported in GM vehicles last year that have been categorically linked to 124 fatalities.
Rosekind says he also wants to use new technologies to make vehicles safer, and is currently trying to figure out what sort of regulations are needed to get partially automated and fully self-driving vehicles on the road safely.
NHTSA, a part of the Deportation of Transportation, currently employs more than 600 people and is directly responsible for the safety of vehicles on the road. It wants to increase its budget, tripling funding for recalls and defects, but has met stiff opposition from Congress.
In the meantime, we will have to wait and see whether Rosekind and the agency he helms will get the cash influx and jobs to transform from a reactive agency, to a proactive one.