President Barack Obama has nominated transportation expert Mark Rosekind to lead The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the top U.S. auto safety regulator, which has come under criticism this year for a slow response to a number of major scandals. Rosekind, if confirmed by the Senate, would come to NHTSA after spending the past four years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The board is the agency that investigates major transportation accidents. The White House announced the nomination on the eve of a Senate hearing into how regulators and the automobile industry have handled a rapidly expanding recall of millions of defective air bags manufactured by Takata Corp. The air bags, which can rupture upon deployment and spray metal shards into cars, have been linked to at least six deaths.
Safety advocates have criticized NHTSA for not responding more quickly to years of evidence about the deadly defect. The agency was rightfully criticized for its slow response to more than a decade of evidence that millions of General Motors Co vehicles were equipped with a deadly ignition switch flaw.
NHTSA has been lacking a permanent head since David Strickland resigned in December 2013. Deputy Administrator David Friedman has been running NHTSA in the interim. According to the NTSB’s biography of Rosekind, he is “one of the world’s foremost human fatigue experts” and a founder of Alertness Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in fatigue management. I agree with Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, who was surprised the nominee didn’t have a background in auto safety. He stated:
Given the GM ignition switch and now Takata I would have expected someone with more of a hands-on experience in vehicle safety.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called Rosekind “a leader ready-made for this critical responsibility,” and said he expects him to hold the auto industry accountable. I hope he is 100% correct.
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