Now that David Strickland is Gone, What’s Next at NHTSA?

by Jon LeSage, remar­ket­ing edi­tor at Auto­mo­tive Digest

There’s been a love/hate rela­tion­ship between Strick­land and the car busi­ness

For near­ly four years, David Strick­land has head­ed up the Nation­al High­way Traf­fic Safe­ty Admin­is­tra­tion. That’s over now, as Strick­land just announced his depar­ture and a suc­ces­sor waits to be named.

For automak­er and deal­ers, that’s bound to bring up mixed feel­ings – glad to see his com­mit­ment to advanced tech­nolo­gies going inside cars and glad to see him leave with his strong-armed approach to deal­ing with info­tain­ment and dis­tract­ed dri­ving.

Strick­land didn’t mince his words – you always knew where he stood.

“He didn’t always agree with us,” said Mitch Bain­wol, CEO of the Alliance of Auto­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers, “but we always felt we could make our pitch, and when he dis­agreed, we under­stood exact­ly why.”

Strick­land and NHTSA have left a full plate for the next admin­is­tra­tor. There’s been a lot of recalls under Strickland’s guid­ance and the Tes­la Motors bat­tery fire inves­ti­ga­tion is still being car­ried out.

Devel­op­ing guide­lines for wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions is also on the list.

Strick­land was also involved into the inves­ti­ga­tion of Toyota’s unin­tend­ed accel­er­a­tion and nego­ti­at­ing fuel econ­o­my stan­dards with the auto indus­try.

Moth­ers Against Drunk Dri­ving (MADD) was sad to see him go. Strick­land served as hon­orary chair­man of the MADD’s Cam­paign to Elim­i­nate Drunk Dri­ving. He empha­sized drunk dri­ving as a nation­al pri­or­i­ty along with dis­tract­ed dri­ving.

He wants to con­nect­ed cars that can increase dri­ver safe­ty and not take their atten­tion away from what’s on the road. He’s pushed for more focus at NHTSA on advanced safe­ty fea­tures and guide­lines for dri­ver­less, autonomous vehi­cles.

Strickland’s top deputy, David Fried­man, will be act­ing admin­is­tra­tor until a suc­ces­sor is named. There will be much inter­est­ed in who steps in Strickland’s shoes.

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