The U.S. is coming up on one year without a permanent auto-safety chief at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to The Wall Street Journal. After a lengthy period of being run by acting head David J. Friedman, the Obama administration is close to naming someone new to the job.
The past year has brought on many auto recalls and large-scale safety issues, including bad ignition switches and exploding airbags. As recently as last week, the federal recall website went down, limiting the way consumers can gather recall information. Additionally, the NHTSA website and recall notifications haven't always provided accurate information, the Journal reported.
The NHTSA has admitted and apologized for inaccurate information, including the recent Takata airbag recall, which jumped from 4 million to almost 8 million in a week, Auto News reported.
"The way this was executed this week was suboptimal in that there were some problems with the numbers of vehicles that were initially identified and the website and so forth," an administration insider anonymously told the Journal.
Time to move forward
Politicians and automakers alike are hoping a permanent head of auto safety will mean a higher priority on safety moving forward. It's unknown whether Friedman is in the running for the permanent position, but whoever is assigned by the president must be confirmed by the Senate.
Consumers can stay informed and safe
Though it can be difficult to stay up to date without the accurate information on the NHTSA website, consumers can keep informed regarding recalls by checking back in and contacting their vehicle's manufacturer. Many automakers have created their own vehicle identification number lookup websites so that people can check if their vehicle is affected by a recall.
Consumers should also make sure to have up-to-date auto insurance coverage so that if a defect in their vehicle does cause or contribute to an accident, they'll have help getting back on the road.