DETROIT (May 26, 2015) — Federal auto regulators are cracking down, and it's about time.
This month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has forced Takata Corp. finally to admit that its recalled airbags are defective and has set a July 2 public hearing to investigate Fiat Chrysler's performance in a series of 20 recalls.
The agency's fresh vigor since Mark Rosekind was appointed administrator goes beyond serving notice that there's a new sheriff in town. It demonstrates that NHTSA, backed by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and key members of Congress, is setting higher standards for public safety and losing patience with prolonged recalls.
NHTSA has far to go in becoming an effective public watchdog. But Mr. Rosekind's new focus on breaking protocol deadlocks and achieving results is a good start.
It's entirely appropriate that motoring consumers have a vigilant protector in the federal government. Public safety must always come first, and the annual death toll on U.S. roads is still too high.
For decades, the auto industry and U.S. regulators have worked to make automobiles safer in collisions — with crumple-zone and safety cage body designs, seat belts, airbags and dozens of other innovations. More recently, auto makers have focused on safety technology to prevent collisions.