Saturday, January 16, 2016

NHTSA surrenders to automakers with prospective agreement on voluntary safety standards

NHTSA surrenders by agreeing to unenforceable auto safety 

NHTSA's Rosekind is smart enough to realize that Congress will never give him the resources to actually become the cop on the auto safety beat. So he is doing the next best thing--I can't really blame him, what other option does he have? ...Congress will not ignore the 600+ auto industry lobbyists---and so he is attempting to work with automakers to establish voluntary safety standards. The automakers and their product liability defense counsel must be truly elated.
The new standards are rumored to be voluntary in nature, and will not carry the weight of law.
If that is the case, NHTSA will soon be hearing from consumer advocates, who are already angry at the prospect of the agency leaving regulation of these safety features in the hands of the automakers.
"If the agency surrenders its authority to private companies and makes these standards voluntary, the companies get to call the shots," said Harvey Rosenfeld, founder of the nonprofit public interest organization Consumer Watchdog. "If that happens, NHTSA will abdicate its own authority to regulate these matters."

"Real safety is finding and fixing defects before someone gets hurt, rather than just punishing after the damage is done," DOT Secretary Foxx commented.
Well said, Secretary Foxx, and certainly the automakers do some of that already, but you are living in a world where automaker blind eyes are not going to go away anytime too soon, given the enormous costs of finding and fixing certain kinds of defects, most notably those rooted in auto electronics.