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NHTSA Pushes for Industry Safety Culture Shift

April 13, 2015

Rosekind
Rosekind

Auto manufacturing chief executives will meet this summer with federal safety officials during a summit aimed at developing ways to improve the industry’s overall safety culture.

In the wake of last year’s record-setting vehicle recalls, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is calling for the auto industry to collectively take a more “proactive rather than reactive” approach to vehicle safety, the Detroit News reported. 

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind mentioned the summit plans during a roundtable session at the New York International Auto Show on April 9.

In 2014, automakers issued 803 vehicle recalls involving nearly 64 million vehicles.

During the discussion, Rosekind also noted NHTSA needs to improve its own performance. He pledged to develop a two-year strategy for doing so – with short-, medium- and long-term goals.

NHTSA has also planned an April 28 event in Washington to find solutions for improving vehicle recall completion rates. Representatives from the automakers, safety advocacy groups and government agencies are expected to participate.

The Obama administration’s highway bill includes some provisions intended to improve recall completion rates. For example, used car dealers and rental car companies would be required to complete any open-recall repairs on a vehicle before selling or renting it. The bill would also mandate that franchise dealers check for open recalls every time a vehicle is brought in for service. But Congressional support for these proposed regulations is in question.

Additionally, the bill proposes a pilot grant program in which a qualifying state DMV would check for open recalls at the time of vehicle registration. The Governors Highway Safety Association, however, has criticized this plan, arguing that state safety projects aimed at changing driver behavior are more worthy of federal funding.

“Only 2 percent of crashes are attributed to vehicle issues, while 94 percent are driver behavior related,” GHSA Chairman Kendell Poole said in a released statement. “Taking money from an already underfunded behavioral safety program to address vehicle safety needs is counterintuitive and not based on data.”

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