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David Strickland resigns as head of NHTSA

Under Strickland, the safety agency fined automakers millions for being slow to report defects. He also pushed to develop guidelines for self-driving cars.

The Trucker News Services

12/13/2013

WASHINGTON — America's top auto safety regulator is stepping down.

David Strickland, who ran the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the past three years, announced his departure on Thursday.

He becomes the second high-ranking official within the Department of Transportation to this week reveal plans to leave the DOT.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx also accepted the resignation of his chief deputy, John Porcari, on Wednesday. Porcari is a former Maryland transportation secretary who spent more than four years in the federal role.

Transportation Department spokesman Nathan Naylor says Deputy Administrator David Friedman will become acting administrator of NHTSA.

No departure date for Strickland was announced.

Friedman was appointed in May. Before joining the agency he worked for a dozen years as a fuel economy expert for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Under Strickland, the safety agency fined automakers millions for being slow to report defects. He also pushed to develop guidelines for self-driving cars.

The agency monitors auto safety complaints and investigates safety problems and also deals with government fuel economy requirements.

Strickland has headed the agency for four years and was a key player in former transportation secretary Ray LaHood’s safety-first initiatives against distracted driving and drunken driving and promoting roadway safety.

Finding someone whose credentials rival Strickland’s will be a challenge, The Washington Post reported in its story about Strickland’s resignation, noting that Strickland is a Harvard-educated lawyer who came to the job after eight years as counsel to the Senate committee that oversaw NHTSA.

“David Strickland has an impressive list of accomplishments during his time at NHTSA,” said Karl Brauer, senior director at Kelley Blue Book, a vehicle valuation company headquartered in Irvine, Calif. “He’s clearly a passionate safety advocate [who] brought that passion to the role. While several unresolved issues remain on David Strickland’s docket, including the Tesla investigation, he would likely never find a moment where all open cases are resolved. The agency has survived changes in leadership before, and it should survive this one without letting anything fall between the cracks.”

For the story posted Thursday in The Trucker about Porcari, click here.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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