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.