US: safety experts say the NHTSA moves too slowly image

Recent developments of the US automotive industry showed that automakers, on occasions, failed to meet deadlines when it comes to investigating and resolving potential safety hazards.

But it looks, according to the Associated Press, they’re not the only ones. Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – the safety regulator that should enforce the rules – can fail and drag its feet.

The AP showed that for example, fifteen drivers petitioned the federal agency since 2010 – with the NHTSA failing to grant or deny the investigations requests no less than 12 times. By law, the safety regulator needs to address the consumer complaint in four months, but if it fails to meet the deadline there are no punitive measures against the agency.

“Everything is just really slow,” Matt Oliver, executive director of the North Carolina Consumers Council, told AP. “You have to ask is everything going as efficiently as it can?”

Detractors argue that each passing moment the NHTSA fails to do its job is one that could endanger innocent lives. For example, Clarence Ditlow, the executive director of the Center For Auto Safety, petitioned in November 2009 for the agency to investigate fiery crashes of rear collisions involving Jeep vehicles. The NHTSA needed nine months to launch a formal probe, even as the reports involved 12 fires, nine injuries and at least one fatality.