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NHTSA Admits to Recall Mistakes in Reports

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June 8, 2015—The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has admitted to past mistakes and pledged new action, according to a report in USA Today. The NHTSA will increase investigations, make more contact with plaintiff’s lawyers, and question the assumptions made by automakers, the organizations aid.

These changes come after infernal reports acknowledge that NHTSA’s regulators did not demand more information from GM’s recent wave of recalls. When NHTSA conducted its own post-crash investigations, information inside the agency was not shared across divisions. Nobody at NHTSA has been disciplined or fired. According to USA Today, Mark Rosekind, administrator of NHTSA, explained that there was not one single person to be blamed.

NHTSA is aware that it needs to be proactive leading to new initiatives being announced on Friday that stemmed from two internal reports. The first report is a recitation of the facts of the GM case, where regulators bared their own mistakes and made it clear that the automaker was mostly at fault for not communicating information about the defect. The second report shows NHTSA performed a “workforce assessment” designed to show the public and congress the funding and personnel increases its Office of Defects Investigations needs if it is to make more of a presence in the automotive safety arena.  

According to this report, NHTSA needs an additional 380 new employees and nearly $90 million in additional spending. The agency has promised that it will do what it can to increase defect detection and oversight of automakers with existing resources.

According to USA Today, Rosekind said that NHTSA is improving systems for identifying and addressing safety defects as well as improving internal communications and information sharing. One of the reports also outlined several other steps the agency has made or plans to take, including putting automakers on notice even before an investigation is opened that is monitoring a high-hazard issue, creating a regulatory record and letting manufacturers know of their responsibility to provide timely data. The report also said that the agency’s Office of Chief Counsel will make more contact with plaintiffs’ attorneys to gather more information about possible defects.

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