Auto defects are a growing safety concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has drawn heavy criticism over the past several years for its slow handling of safety defects involving air bags manufactured by Takata and General Motors vehicles with defective ignition switches. In each case, car models with known defects that had the potential to lead to deadly accidents were left on the roads for years before finally being recalled. Congress expressed its displeasure with the NHTSA and called for stronger action going forward. The White House is now looking to give the NHTSA the ability to move faster and perform better by raising its budget.
In 2014, the NHTSA recalled twice as many vehicles as it ever had before. Almost 64 million cars and trucks were recalled for various defects. The job of identifying potential defects and making sure auto companies respond appropriately is much larger than it was even 10 years ago. Despite the growing problem, the NHTSA has not been able to expand the team handling auto defects due to budget constraints.
In 2015, 28 full time employees will be expected to address all the auto defect issues that arise. If the new budget is approved, it will be able to double the staff handling defects, including adding new investigators to more quickly identify and respond to potential safety hazards. The NHTSA has promised to complete the recall process more quickly going forward. That will likely lead to fewer injuries and deaths resulting from defective automobiles.
Source: The Detroit News, “White House seeks to nearly triple NHTSA defect budget,” by David Shepardson, 2 February 2015