Changes are in the horizon as the United States auto watchdog, which received criticisms for having little effect in ensuring safety in American roads. The emergence of a new leader spelled a radical change as the establishment is now showing some fight in it.
Sitting as the new leader of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) just this January, Mark Rosekind has brought a new energy, which has reinvigorated the whole organization. Wasting no time, he immediately implemented new rules, forcing hardheaded companies into recalling defective automobiles by the millions. Rosekind, in the first couple of months of his term, has expressed strong and firm that he will not hesitate to use the government’s legal power to the fullest to punish offenders.
The past week saw the largest recall in history, which involved neatly 34 million vehicles with potentially deadly airbags by Takata Corp. Moreover, a rare public hearing has been set to review over 10 million Fiat and Chrysler vehicles. Both companies can rack up multiple penalties as big as $700 million if proven that they knowingly released cars with defective airbags.
At age 60, Rosekind took over the position after a bruising year of criticism from the public and congress over their lack of initiative to respond to major safety crises. His actions also came with a clear and marching order from the White House to take dangerous vehicles off the roads of the country.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx clarified to Reuters that, “We brought him in to bring it.” He added that, “Having someone who personifies the kind of aggressiveness with which we expect the agency to operate is healthy for external stakeholders as well as our own folks at DOT (Department of Transportation) and NHTSA.”
According to former and present officials, the organization never saw as much recalls in the past because it is not the priority of past leaders. A good example for this is David Kelly, who filled the job on an acting basis at the latter part of President Bush’s administration to focus on fuel economy.
Joan Claybrook, who led the agency in the 1970s, stated that, “He is going to be the cop on the beat. He doesn’t care if he is popular or not,” he stated, ”I think he is going to get the agency back on track in terms of enforcing the law.”
Even if NHTSA understaffed, which is rumored to have 612 employees looking after all the vehicles in the entire country, Mark Rosekind demonstrated authority never seen before.