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Senate Hears Testimony from Critics of NHTSA Efficiency

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Nov. 11, 2013—A U.S. Senate panel heard testimony last week to determine whether the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is issuing new auto industry regulations fast enough.

The NHTSA, created by Congress in 1966, issued 50 different safety standards in its first 10 years but lately, critics argue that too few safety standards have been issued and with too many delays. These delays are due in large part to resistance from automakers.

According to multiple reports, Clarence Ditlow, the director of the Center for Automotive Safety, was among the many critics of the organization, pointing to the NHTSA’s failure to introduce rules on electronic controls and stating the it hasn’t moved fast enough on other issues like rear visibility standards.

“Congress is dictating to NHTSA to issue rules in the face of inaction,” Ditlow said, according to The Detroit News. “Out-of-date and inadequate safety standards couple with enforcement efforts playing catch-up to an industry striving to run out of the statute of limitations.”

Thomas McGarity, a University of Texas law school professor, said the NHTSA focuses more on vehicle recalls and “has effectively given up on rule-making unless specifically required by statute.”

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