Is the NHTSA Keeping Our Roads Safe?

With the recent recall of nearly 7.5 million Toyota vehicles, there are still many unanswered questions regarding vehicle safety. Vehicle safety issues came to a head in 1966 with a book made famous by activist Ralph Nader, which highlighted the dismal safety record of the automobile industry. From this, Congress held hearings and eventually enacted legislation to address some of the most concerning issues such as the lack of seat belts in some vehicles.

The Highway Safety Act of 1966 was a big step forward in automobile safety, which required states to have in place their own safety programs to reduce accidents and injuries on its roads. It also put into motion the foundation for the current-day emergency response system by requiring better care for accident victims.

NHTSAThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created in 1970 with a mission to “Save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related crashes.” Among other responsibilities, the agency is responsible for setting and enforcing vehicle safety standards in the United States.

Critics of the agency and its safety standards site the long history of conflict between the agency, consumers and the automobile manufacturers. For instance, the largest recall in history involved a Ford transmission, which failed to go into the park position. The fix provided by Ford involved only a warning sticker.

There are more vehicles, and more varied types of vehicles, on the roads today than ever. Keeping the roads safe for all vehicles and their passengers, as well as pedestrians, should be the focus. With so many major recalls, questions remain regarding the true safety of all vehicles.