NHTSA Vows Increased Number of Investigations

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is tasked with keeping drivers safe by making sure that automakers issue campaigns when something is wrong with a vehicle. Last year, the agency came under intense scrutiny, though, and Congress called it incompetent for the handling of the General Motors ignition switch recall.

Following a one-year internal investigation, NHTSA has now set out to reorganize into a better organization and has laid its future out in two reports.

“NHTSA has identified improvements, some already in progress and some we plan to make, to better investigate, identify and remedy defects that threaten public safety,” US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the investigation announcement. Among these changes, the agency is working to watch automakers more closely and question the assumptions that are made during inquiries. To make sure these advancements actually happen, a three-person panel of outside experts called the Safety Systems Team is monitoring NHTSA for the next year.

The government agency also admits that there’s a problem with its departments not communicating with each other. To help fix this, the Risk Control Innovations Program is being implemented to bring people together across NHTSA to take on emerging highway safety questions.

Beyond these internal changes, the agency still wants extra financial help, as well. According to The Detroit Free Press, NHTSA is asking for 380 more workers and a $90-million budget increase. That money could be useful, if it ever comes. A report last year found that the Office of Defects Investigation had a staff of just 51 people and $10 million in annual resources. The division already requested to triple that funding and hire at least 23 more employees.

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