Closing NHTSA’s Revolving Door

Marietta product defect attorney

Closing NHTSA’s Revolving Door

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been under a lot of scrutiny in the past year due to the fact that the agency overlooked several large safety defects in vehicles.  In order for the agency to function as it should, it will need to close its large revolving door. The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that from 1984 to 2010, 40 officials left their jobs at NHTSA to work for automakers, their law firms or auto industry consultants. Just a year ago, the head of NHTSA, David Strickland, left to join a law firm that represents the automaker’s trade group. This was right after a completed settlement with one of the firm’s members. New director, Mark Rosekind, appointed by Obama, took his place.

It would appear that the fact NHTSA did not act for so long was that its members were too busy securing new positions. The cost is clear though: safety and lives.  Here are just a few examples of where NHTSA failed to act with urgency. General Motors had a severe problem with its ignition switches shutting off while vehicles were being driven. Although it should have been fixed years ago, instead of NHTSA investigating, 265 lives were lost and millions of vehicles were recalled. Other examples include faulty air bags, sudden acceleration and fuel-system defects. NHTSA failed to act until just recently. 2014 was credited to the ‘year of recalls,’ as NHTSA worked to make up for lost time.

The current rule prohibits ex-federal officials from seeking to influence their former agency for two years, but that time frame has proven to not be long enough. USA Today gave a few more examples of NHTSA staff that have done everything but help the agency reach safety goals: A former associate administrator, Kenneth Weinstein represents Takata Corp., which has supplied 10 automakers with defective airbags. While with NHTSA, he successfully limited recalls to specific geographic areas, which lowers cost for manufacturers and automakers. Diane Steed left NHTSA in 1989 and established an industry front group, Coalition for Vehicle Choice, which combats tougher mileage standards. During her time at the agency, she successfully fought proposals to boost fuel efficiency and recommendations that automakers redesign SUV’s for better safety. These are just a few examples of how the agency has failed to do its job, due to faulty leadership and a big revolving door.

For the agency to run the way it was intended to, its revolving door will have to be sealed shut first.

Source: USA Today

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