— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is under the microscope of the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation to determine if federal safety regulators are performing their obligations to protect the U.S. public.
Federal safety standards for vehicles are established by NHTSA in conjunction with federal laws to improve traffic safety, and it's those processes auditors will look at.
More than 36,000 people are dead from crashes in 2019 and at a time when vehicles were allegedly more safe than ever as automakers charged premium prices for various safety technologies to prevent crashes and the resulting injuries and deaths.
But auditors want to learn if NHTSA's actions for federal safety standards are enough to protect the traveling public.
NHTSA's federal motor vehicle safety standards specify the design, construction, performance and durability requirements for new vehicles and safety-related components such as airbags and seat belts. And NHTSA is also responsible for making sure automakers comply with all federal safety standards.
Crash testing, monitoring safety requirements and enforcing regulations are all the jobs of federal safety regulators.
The Office of Inspector General has been down this road before with NHTSA, including in 2015 when investigators determined safety regulators had ignored 90% of consumer complaints about vehicles.
NHTSA also admitted it failed the public by allowing General Motors ignition switch defects to kill and injure hundreds of vehicle occupants.
In addition, an audit of NHTSA indicated multiple federal failures allowed Takata airbags to kill and maim vehicle occupants.