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Greg Webb
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NHTSA Audit Reveals Continued Failure to Address Auto Safety

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The Transportation Department recently released a report on The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Five years after an internal audit found serious problems in the agency, and now 15 months after a change in leadership, NHTSA continues to have serious problems.

In 2014, during the GM faulty ignition switch recalls, The New York Times reported that NHTSA was still struggling to do its job properly. The article stated,  “It found that in many of the major vehicle safety issues of recent years — including unintended acceleration in Toyotas, fires in Jeep fuel tanks and air bag ruptures in Hondas, as well as the G.M. ignition defect — the agency did not take a leading role until well after the problems had reached a crisis level, safety advocates had sounded alarms and motorists were injured or died.”

Now it is 2016, Mark Rosekind has been at the helm since late 2014, and the agency still has not implemented training programs for safety investigators. NHTSA still fails to report on investigative evidence in a timely fashion.

A spokesperson for NHTSA says the agency will enact all of the inspector general’s recommendations by June 30.

In a speech last month, Mr. Rosekind pledged, “We have committed to making changes at N.H.T.S.A. because the status quo clearly wasn’t sufficient.” No doubt he said something similarly reassuring back in 2014.

The auto industry has experienced record recalls in the last several years—many involving safety defects resulting in death and serious injuries. NHTSA is once again being reactive rather than proactive – it is past time to act.