Rosekind Seeks More Authority for NHTSA

NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind speaking at the SAE 2015 Government-Industry Meeting.

NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind speaking at the SAE 2015 Government-Industry Meeting.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration needs “increased authority” to carry out its mission, said Mark Rosekind, NHTSA’s new administer, a surprise keynote speaker added to the SAE 2015 Government-Industry Meeting Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

“First, we must strengthen how NHTSA identifies recall vehicles and equipment with safety-related defects,” he said. “As it stands, resources, including people, technology and authority, present challenges to NHTSA’s efforts in this area. We have to address these issues through multiple mechanisms, such as seeking more people, new technologies and increased authority.”

He pointed to the recent recall cases involving General Motors and Takata as examples of why it’s important for NHTSA to catch safety issues as early as possible.

“It is NHTSA’s responsibility to do everything in our power to prevent deaths and injuries related to defects. The American people expect that,” he explained. “We have a commitment to the families and friends affected by roadway tragedies, and to you, that we explore every idea, use every authority, employ every tool to prevent such tragedies.”

Technology, such as collision warning systems, also came up during his speech.

“Technology innovations have been critical to saving lives and preventing injuries on our roadways,” Rosekind said. “From the most basic, like a seat belt, to the newest technology—like collision warning and automatic braking systems—these innovations have played a critical role in furthering safety. Just consider, what life-saving technology innovation is coming next?”

NHTSA's new administrator wants increased authority for the government agency.

NHTSA’s new administrator wants increased authority for the government agency.

Finally, he said NHTSA’s communication with the public needs to be “more transparent.”

“Externally, the public needs to know what we do and how we do it,” Rosekind explained. “We will build trust by excelling at what we do and also by ensuring that the American public understands how we do it. This will translate into transparency wherever possible to provide people with information to help them make safe choices.

“You will see diverse changes in how we communicate with the public across nearly every NHTSA platform and we will do so in clear and direct terms that make our technical information understood and accessible. We will apply this communication internally as well, ensuring our goals and activities are communicated across the agency,” he added.

SAE International is an organization designed to unite more than 145,000 engineers and technical experts throughout the world to drive knowledge and expertise across a broad spectrum of industries, including automotive.

The theme of this year’s Government-Industry Meeting is “Future Vehicles: Integrating Safety, Environment and the Technology.” The event is being held through January 23 and is co-located with the Washington Auto Show.

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