With Mark Rosekind confirmed as the new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the clock is ticking on changes many advocates say are necessary to make the group effective. As a former member of the National Transportation Safety Board, Mark Rosekind made his name as an expert on human fatigue and the dangers it poses in the transportation industry. Some question whether that background is appropriate for an agency that frequently deals with highly technical auto industry matters, including defective equipment and safety systems. Some have suggested that the complex nature of auto technology has left the NHTSA scrambling to keep up, often relying on auto companies to provide the needed information to make decisions about recalls.
Mr. Rosekind has promised that the NHTSA will fulfill its role as an enforcer of safety regulations on the auto industry. He has acknowledged that the agency needs more resources and a larger staff to stay on top of the latest technology in auto safety. Currently the NHTSA employs 9 people to review roughly 75,000 complaints per year. The yearly budget to handle auto defect investigations is roughly $10 million per year.
Some of the criticism directed at the NHTSA has centered around a perceived lack of understanding of the latest auto technology. The Takata airbag defects, in particular, represent a failure in technology that some believe goes beyond the understanding of those at the NHTSA. As the new leader of the body, Mr. Rosekind will likely make securing a larger budget a top priority to help fulfill its safety mission.
Source: Automotive News, "The road ahead for the NHTSA's new chief," by Ryan Beene, 16 December 2014