U.S. House Turns Down Proposal for Increased Vehicle Safety Funds at the Worst Possible Moment

NHTSA funding cutting 1 photo
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This decision comes at a time when more and more vehicles are proven faulty, with defects that can go as far as to endanger the lives of their occupants and those around them.
In recent years, we’ve had faulty ignition switches, accelerator pedals that got stuck in full open mode or airbags that turned into veritable shrapnel bombs. And yet, the U.S. House of Representatives chose to refuse the proposed spending increases for vehicle safety, which also directly affects the investigating procedures.

More to the point, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) was on the receiving end of a Republican amendment to the transportation bill. According to this paper, the funding for the traffic organization will be cut by one-fifth to one-third compared to what the Obama administration intended and what the Senate approved last July.

The voting wasn’t even a close call, the lawmakers opting for the measure by a considerable margin, taking into account the fiscal problems the NHTSA is facing.

The Republicans said that, even with this lower budget, the NHTSA would have enough resources to carry on with its intended mission.

The NHTSA has come under flak recently for not taking action fast enough against the latest issues that have arisen, such as the Takata Corp. airbag inflators or the GM ignition switch. This last one alone is thought to have caused no less than 124 deaths and 275 injuries.

The approach of the NHTSA has changed recently under the new management, with the agency becoming a lot more aggressive. However, without proper funding that would allow it to hire more staff and upgrade its informational system, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will have a mountain to climb if it wants to meet the self-imposed deadline of June 2016 regarding its internal reforms.

But it’s worth noting that these cuts come from a previously proposed funding increase for the NHTSA, so the agency will actually get more money than in previous years, just not as much as the Obama administration voted in July. In numbers, the $46.2 million scheduled increase for 2016 will drop by $15 million, with the same penalty applying for the next years as well.

Whether Mark Rosekind, the new administrator of NHTSA, is able to keep up the more aggressive attitude shown lately by the agency remains to be seen, but what’s clear is that there is still a lot to do, with issues coming up more often than ever.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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