The NHTSA is the federal agency charged with regulating safety standards in the auto industry and transportation. To achieve its stated mission of reducing fatalities, injuries and costs associated with auto accidents, the NHTSA acts through research, public education and consumer protection initiatives; investigates defects and enforces manufacturer compliance with safety standards; and helps regulate other standards such as fuel economy. It deals with topics from safety defects, crash testing and accident statistics to child seats, teen driving and pedestrians.
After failing to gain political support for the nomination of Charles “Chuck” Hurley, CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), President Barack Obama turned to congressional aide David L. Strickland, whose announcement did not prompt any concerns from Republicans or Democrats. He was confirmed by the Senate December 24, 2009.
David Kelly took over as Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after the August 29, 2008, resignation of administrator Nicole Nason. President Bush officially nominated Kelly to be NHTSA administrator on September 2, 2008. Kelly was a member of the staff of the National Safety Council from 1996 to 2003 and was program manager and Director of the Council’s Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign. He also held leadership positions with Mothers Against Drunk Diving. Kelly held the position of deputy assistant secretary for government affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, prior to his appointment as acting administrator, was the chief of staff at NHTSA, managing the agency’s daily operations.