NHTSA officials to be barred from jobs with automakers

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Highway safety

The NHTSA is responsible for all highway safety in the United States. Image from Flickr.

On Wednesday morning, Democratic senator from California Barbara Boxer introduced a bill that would close the “revolving door” between the NHTSA and automakers. A part of the continuing fallout of the Toyota recall fiasco, this bill addresses an issue raised repeatedly in congressional hearings. Should the bill pass, high-level NHTSA employees would be required to take a three-year break before working for automakers.

Former NHTSA employees negotiated for Toyota

During the Senate hearings about the Toyota recall, the role of former NHTSA employees came to light. Former employees were recruited directly from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to work with Toyota on negotiating with the NHTSA. Because these employees had inside knowledge, they were able to negotiate smaller-scale recalls — or talk their way out of any recall at all. This is a fairly standard practice within vehicle manufacturers, and presents serious neutrality issues.

Required three-year cooling-off period

The bill introduced by Barbara Boxer would require a three-year “cooling off” period for NHTSA employees before they could work for automakers. This rule would apply to only “high level” NHTSA jobs and “direct communication” jobs with automakers. If the job a NHTSA employee has does not involve recalls or automaker negotiations, the rule would not apply to them. Additionally, if the former employee is offered a position with the auto maker that does not require them to work communicate with the NHTSA, they can take the job.

Department of Transportation due to investigate NHTSA

In February of this year, the Department of Transportation announced that it would investigate the NHTSA. Concerns have been raised that the NHTSA is simply under-equipped and understaffed. There are about 125 engineers on staff for the NHTSA, which is responsible for the safety and security of the approximately 254 million passenger vehicles on U.S. roadways. There are worries that the NHTSA simply cannot effectively regulate its entire purview with so few engineers.


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    I am 52 year’s old , As a child my family and were hit by a pickup truck that ran a red light. the truck hit us on the left front of my dad’s Rambler wagon and took out the whole front of the wagon . My mom, dad , 2 brother’s and 1 sister were unhurt , due to the seat belt’s and that the Rambler was made of steel ! Today what would be a fender bender back then will kill you these day’s . The vehicle’s today are nothing more than soda can;s with wheel’s because Auto maker’s want to sell you a new soda can every 6 years! The safety act’s only protect the Auto maker’s , Safety studies done outside the U.S. prove that a steel vehicle with good seat belt’s save’s lives ! We are being sold B.S. by our Government to let U.S. auto maker’s do what they want, Cumple zone’s totally your vehicle in a fender bender so will have to buy another soda can, not protect your life! Go online and look at European safety studies, vehicle’s do not need to be lighter to save gas, It only saves the auto maker money! Our Government will allow outside auto maker’s to sell vehicle’s in the U.S. that last , German , Austrian , Czech, and Russian auto maker’s built vehicle’s in the late 1940’s that are still going strong today and they still make low cost part’s for them!