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Federal automobile safety agency may be heading for reform

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

With the arrival of a new Administration, some are renewing their calls for an overhaul of the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, or NHSTA.

In the last few months, a group of automobile safety organizations criticized NHSTA’s performance when it comes to making sure that automobile manufacturers are putting the safest vehicles on America’s roads.

Among other issues, the group said that NHTSA had failed to keep their safety standards up to date.

The group was also concerned that NTHSA was not fully monitoring whether automobile manufacturers who voluntarily recalled their products were fully rooting defective or potentially dangerous vehicles.

The group also suggested NTHSA reacted too slowly when responding to a problem with an ignition switch in certain cars manufactured by General Motors. The faulty switch had the potential to prevent an airbag from deploying in an accident.

The report did not entirely fault the organization itself. It suggested that in some cases, pressure from the automobile industry and budget constraints made it more difficult for agency to make improvements when it needed to do so.

How might future safety reforms impact product liability suits?

Addressing a new Administration, the authors of the report recommended that NHTSA receive additional money to oversee recalls and, more generally, enforce their safety standards.

The report also specifically called for NHTSA to have broader authority and power to enforce their standards.

The report specifically calls on NHTSA both to enact new safety standards and to implement those standards that Congress has already called for.

It also suggests that NHTSA ought to have the power to conduct criminal investigations of the managers of automobile manufactures if they ignore or cover up safety violations. The report also calls on NHTSA to ban the sale of any used car subject to a recall.

Hopefully, lawmakers will heed these recommendations. Doing so would bring to light safety issues that some manufacturers may prefer to keep hidden and thus allow injured victims in Maryland to get compensation in a product liability lawsuit.