NHTSA Chief Wants More Aggressive Recalls, Standard Auto-Pilot Systems

Jan 13, 2015 02:00 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Recently instated auto safety leader Mark Rosekind renewed the call for more aggressive recalls and increased vigilance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday at the auto show in Detroit.

"I'd rather have people be pre-emptive than waiting too long and finding out they made a mistake, because you can't save those lives after they're gone," said Rosekind, as quoted by the New York Times.

2014 was a record year for recalls in the United States, with automakers issuing calls for repairs on more than 63 million vehicles. Even more cars could be recalled this year, a scenario that would reflect increased vigilance, Rosekind said.

One of the NHTSA chief's priorities is autonomous technology, which has been touted as much safer since it reduces the risks associated with human error. Crash avoidance systems such as lane departure warning and automatic braking before a collision are becoming the next auto safety frontier.

"Safety should not be based on the price of your car," said Rosekind, saying that these innovative technologies should not be exclusive to pricey models.

While NHTSA is waiting to see how the auto industry transitions into making semi-autonomous technologies standard, Rosekind hinted a bit darkly at the possibility of a government-mandated standard for safety systems intended to make them available to the everyday consumer.

"The issue is going to be how much the manufacturers are going to do that on their own, versus what we have to do," he said, as quoted by the Times.

Rosekind's remarks follow reports about Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne's opinion that last year's slew of recalls may have been "overkill."  

The FCA leader told media at the Detroit show that "it is quite possible that there have been some instances that we may have overreacted with particular recalls."

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