New report says NHTSA falls behind schedule, fails timeliness standards

A probe into the NHTSA found systemic issues relating to defect investigations which officials claim could place U.S. drivers at risk

A probe into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) ability to conduct investigations in a timely manner found systemic issues which officials claim could place U.S. drivers at risk.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) examined multiple defect cases the NHTSA took between 2018 and 2019. Out of the 27 investigations cited in the ensuant report, 26 took longer to complete than specified in the agency’s own policies. The DOT also claimed that efforts by NHTSA officials had broadly failed to address the issue adequately. The lack of timeliness, concluded the DOT, posed a threat to drivers who may not even be aware that they own a defective vehicle.

Given this report, the NHTSA will likely need to find ways to expedite its investigative process, but what these reforms will look like is unclear. To successfully identify vehicle defects and advise manufacturers, the agency must include a large enough pool of products in its research. Failure to find enough concurrent instances can give automakers ground to dismiss regulatory warnings and refuse to cover repairs, as seen several weeks ago. Sometimes, cars must be physically disassembled and tested under various conditions to uncover mechanical issues. On other occasions, regulators must thoroughly examine the manufacturer’s software to search for computer errors.

Completing these requirements requires substantial time and, perhaps more importantly, money. It may become necessary for the NHTSA to request additional funds if it hopes to address the inefficiency uncovered in the DOT’s report. However, given the fraught economic environment of the post-pandemic era, this could be even more difficult to obtain.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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