Can Mark Rosekind Help NHTSA Act Faster to Auto Issues?

Dec 17, 2014 05:00 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

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The Senate announced Tuesday that Mark Rosekind will now lead the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"If confirmed, you have my commitment that I will maintain an aggressive focus on continuing to improve NHTSA's safety record," Mr. Rosekind told the Senate Commerce Committee in November. "To this task, I will bring a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective honed over the years as a safety professional and manager."

NHTSA has come under fire this year for not responding quickly enough to evidence of potentially deadly vehicle defects. Rosekind is an expert on human fatigue and has spent the past four years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigates major transportation accidents. The Senate confirmed his appointment by unanimous consent late on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

Rosekind joins the agency that has been without a permanent chief since David Strickland resigned in 2013. Deputy Administrator David Friedman has been running NHTSA for the time being.

NHTSA has been criticized by safety advocates and member of Congress for its slow response to two big, controversial scandals in 2014: defective Takata air bags and General Motors ignition switches.

Rosekind said at his Senate confirmation hearing a few weeks ago that the agency needs to act faster when it comes to safety crises.

"I'm very concerned like all of you have been with the slowness across all of the recalls," Rosekind said.

The faulty Takata air bags, which can rupture upon deployment and spray metal shards into vehicles, have been linked to five deaths so far, four in the U.S.

An issue in the design of millions of GM switches, which can turn off the engine at any moment while the vehicle is on the road, has been linked to 42 deaths so far. 

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