According to federal investigators, the US auto safety regulator – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – is riddled with internal issues that have rendered it unable to act and protect the public from fatal auto safety problems, including the defective ignition switches made by GM.
An official report made by the US Department of Transportation, reportedly seen by Reuters, sees the NHTSA unable to gather the needed data to identify crucial safety occurrences, does a not so great job of screening the data it does have and has failed on numerous occasions to hold carmakers responsible for the problems that have plagued with recalls the 265 million cars and trucks on US roads. The problems have been triggered by ineffective management, blunt investigation practices and insufficient and badly trained staff tasked to analyze increasingly complex auto technology, read the report by the DOT Office of Inspector General. The report will be released this week and comes as the NHTSA has been held accountable for the outrageous General Motors recall of defective ignition switches that have been tied to at least 100 deaths and global safety crisis triggered by Takata Corp’s faulty airbag inflators that have been tied to at least eight fatalities.
Now, the Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind are both calling for the Congress to supplement the regulator agency’s funding and enforcement powers – after the last revision of the budget was almost a decade ago for the defect investigations unit. Rosekind, a seasoned safety expert that took command of NHTSA less than half a year ago, has already stepped up the agency’s efforts – including with Takata and FCA US – by tapping seldom or never used before regulatory powers.