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President Seeking Enhanced Power For Safety Administration

Motor vehicles are being recalled in previously unheard of numbers. There have been 40 million vehicles recalled already in 2014. General Motors alone has recalled 25.7 million vehicles this year for various defects, some of which pose a significant danger to drivers. Despite the huge number of recalls, many lawmakers believe that the agency most directly in charge of the process needs to be given greater authority. Members of Congress have now been joined by the Obama administration is seeking substantial changes to the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These changes would grant the body greater authority to speed the recall process and punish automakers that do not cooperate. The goal is to reduce the number of car and truck accidents that occur before vehicles with known dangers are recalled.

The call for greater authority in the NHTSA comes amid allegations that the group should have done more with regard to the recent GM recall of vehicles with defective ignition switches. Millions of vehicles with that defect were finally recalled this year despite the NHTSA first receiving evidence of the problem more than 10 years ago. Critics have suggested that the lack of urgency shown by both the NHTSA and GM shows the problem goes deeper than authority. The House Energy and Commerce Committee intends to hold hearings to probe how the NHTSA handles recalls. 

The current administrator of the NHTSA, David Friedman, has suggested that the real problem is automakers that do not put the safety of their customers first. Recalls put automakers in a difficult position. They are expensive and harmful to the reputation of the company in question. By delaying them or avoiding them altogether, it may be possible to save money at the cost of a few lives. That reality is not comforting for the families who have lost loved ones to defective automobiles.

Source: The Detroit News, "Feds want faster pace for auto recalls," by David Shepardson, 21 July 2014 

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