ENERGY AND COMMERCE WANTS INVESTIGATION OF THE NHTSA!

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A sign board of Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp's Annual General Meeting is seen on a street near the venue in Tokyo

The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) is in charge of regulating vehicle safety. In light of the deaths and millions of vehicle recalls recently, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce has been looking into why the NHTSA was not able to understand the problem. They have sent out a request for information signed by both Republicans and Democrats.

What letter to NHTSA said

Here, via the committee website, is what the committee is saying.

In early 2014, General Motors recalled more than 2 million vehicles due to faulty ignition switches that could shut off power to the front airbags. According to GM, these defects resulted in at least 31 crashes and 13 deaths before the recall was initiated. As demonstrated by investigations conducted in the wake of this recall, GM’s flawed approach to safety contributed to the tragic failure to identify this defect in a timely fashion. 

In light of this and other recent recalls affecting millions of vehicles, however, our committee, safety experts, and other industry officials have questioned why NHTSA did not act more quickly to mandate recalls before the auto companies voluntarily did so. An investigation of the GM recalls by the committee revealed NHTSA lacked a comprehensive understanding of vehicle systems the agency is responsible for regulating, contributing to the inaction on this defect. As vehicle functions and safety systems become more complex, these findings raise concerns about NHTSA’s process for obtaining data and investigating vehicle defects and the agency’s broader framework and readiness for adapting to technological advances in the industries it oversees. 

Because of these issues, we are requesting that GAO conduct a review of NHTSA, including the agency’s information sharing and information gathering capabilities and readiness to adapt to technological change. 

The committee’s request comes as the agency and vehicle manufacturers are back in the spotlight regarding recalls for vehicles equipped with faulty and potentially hazardous Takata air bags. 

Some members of Congress are concerned with safety and trying to get over the politics.

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