National Highway Traffic Safety Administration leader David Strickland will step down, as his agency investigates fires in Tesla electric cars and is behind schedule on implementing a rule requiring backup cameras in new cars.
His deputy, David Friedman, will serve as acting administrator after Strickland departs, Nathan Naylor, an agency spokesman, said in an interview. He declined to say when Strickland will leave or where he is going.
The agency is part of the Transportation Department. It regulates safety and fuel economy of passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. Strickland, 45, joined the agency in 2010 as it was in the midst of a record number of Toyota vehicle recalls for defects that could cause unintended acceleration. He announced his departure yesterday at a meeting with top staff. The Detroit News reported his move earlier.
Strickland was involved in the decision to more than double the required average fuel economy of new cars by 2025. He was also part of former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s effort to curb distracted driving.
Prior to heading NHTSA, he was an aide to the Senate Commerce Committee, where he helped write the law requiring backup cameras in cars. The agency delayed issuing that rule until 2015.
Under his leadership NHTSA has begun work on regulating autonomous vehicles, overseen a test of cars that can communicate wirelessly with each other, and proposed rating passenger vehicles for how well they protect older people.
Friedman became deputy administrator in May after 12 years at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where he rose to be the deputy director of its clean vehicles program. Friedman worked opposite automakers as his group helped push for fuel-economy standards that may force manufacturers to more than double their fleet wide averages by 2025.