Expert on fatigued driving confirmed as NHTSA chief

Expert on fatigued driving confirmed as NHTSA chief

In a flurry of last-minute activity before adjournment, the Senate confirmed Mark Rosekind, Ph.D, to be the new administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deputy administrator David Friedman has held the post on a temporary basis for the past year, as the agency was attacked by some in Congress for inadequate oversight of defective vehicles that caused several deaths.

–I pledge to work with [NHTSA employees] to build on the agencyês strong record of saving lives, preventing injuries, and making travel on our roadways safer,” said Rosekind, according to the Detroit News.

The immediate crisis facing NHTSA is the partial recall of driver-side airbags by Ford, Chrysler and BMW. NHTSA said it will force Takata Corp., the airbag manufacturer, and the automakers to expand the recall from regional to nationwide. Takata has insisted that a nationwide recall is not needed, and that it does not have the parts to accommodate one. But NHTSA deputy administrator Friedman has said NHTSA is willing to go to court if necessary, a process that could take years.

During a Senate committee hearing on Rosekindês nomination, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) noted that this year had seen a record number of auto recalls. –In many of these cases, there are legitimate questions about whether NHTSA should have identified the defective products earlier and communicated more effectively with the public,” Thune said, according to The Hill. –That is why Dr. Rosekind will face substantial challenges at NHTSA.” Thune will be chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee in the new Congress.

Rosekind said that if automakers donêt act to recall defective vehicles promptly, –NHTSA needs to be the enforcer.”

A member of the National Transportation Safety Board since 2010, Rosekind is a national expert on fatigued driving.

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