Could Increasing the NHTSA’s Authority Reduce the Risk of Collisions?

Texas auto accident attorneyWhen a car has a defect, it can increase the chances of collisions occurring or of people getting seriously hurt in a crash. Just recently, for example, GM had to recall vehicles because problems with ignition switches caused cars to turn off unexpectedly. At least 12 people reportedly died as a result of traffic collisions resulting from the issue. Defective Toyotas that accelerated on their own also led to recalls after deadly crashes not too long ago.

Car manufacturers are expected to respond to safety defects within five business days of the problem becoming apparent and should alert the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and institute a recall if necessary. Unfortunately, as the GM saga shows, this does not always occur. Car manufacturers may have faulty internal systems for reporting safety violations or may act in the interests of protecting shareholders profits rather than protecting the public.

Some lawmakers are proposing a solution to the problem of all of these recalls in recent years: giving the NHTSA more power. If the agency was more transparent, had more money and had more oversight powers, it could potentially help to avoid deadly collisions. If a crash does occur because of a vehicle defect, the legal issues this raises can be complicated and victims should consult with a personal injury lawyer for help.

Could Increasing NHTSA Authority Make Motorists Safer?

According to Modern Tire Dealer, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller has introduced Senate Bill 2559 to expand the authority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rockefeller is the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and he introduced the bill in response to recent recalls and safety concerns about vehicles.

The Bill, if passed, would demand that the NHTSA be more transparent than the agency currently is. The NHTSA would need to make public the results of consumer satisfaction campaigns as well as make consumer complaints public. The NHTSA would also be responsible for making available information on recalls, warranty claims, field reports, consumer complaints and technical service bulletins to the public. Finally, the NHTSA would need to alert the public to "other activity involving the repair or replacement of motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment."

In addition to ensuring the public had more information about car safety, the NHTSA would need to generate more reports on a regular basis and would need to make the reports available to congress. For example, the NHTSA should conduct a study on how early warning data and should write a report on:

  • The number of safety defect investigations that the NHTSA opens.
  • The duration of each of the safety investigations opened by the NHTSA.
  • The percentage of investigations that ultimately identify a safety defect or that lead to a recall.

The NHTSA would also have a new reporting requirement in which the secretary of transportation would be required to provide updates on the operation of the Council for Vehicle Electronics, Vehicle Software and Emerging Technologies.

If the NHTSA's authority is expanded as the Bill suggests, this could make a significant difference in ensuring that vehicles are recalled quickly and could hopefully help prevent deaths from defective vehicles.

Personal injury lawyers in Houston can help after your injury. Call today at (800) 632-9404 or visit to schedule your free consultation with Hagood & Neumann.

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With offices in Galveston and Houston, the Law Offices of Gene S. Hagood serve clients throughout Texas. Whether it’s helping injury victims in truck accidents, construction accidents or other accidents due to negligence, Attorney Hagood works tirelessly to get people the compensation they rightfully deserve.

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