Top Auto Safety Administrator Leaves Government to Join Law Firm Representing Auto Companies He Investigated

Sunday, January 12, 2014
David Strickland (photo: Texas A&M Transportation Institute)

The federal government’s top automobile safety regulator is leaving his post and joining a national law firm that represents car manufacturers.


David Strickland, the top official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who announced last month he was resigning, has now added that he is accepting a position at Venable LLP, which counts carmakers among its many clients and represents them before the NHTSA.


Strickland will work in the firm’s regulatory group after running an agency that oversees vehicle safety standards, recalls, fuel economy regulations and other vehicle regulatory issues.


The NHTSA’s administrator since 2010, Strickland’s tenure included overseeing investigations into Toyota’s sudden-acceleration controversy, in which numerous drivers were injured or killed by their cars’ unexpected increase in speed.


Some members of Congress criticized him during his first year on the job for not moving sooner to address complaints by Toyota drivers experiencing sudden acceleration.


He also oversaw high-profile safety investigations into the Chevrolet Volt, Jeep SUVs and the Tesla Motors Model S for fire risks.


Before he leaves office, Strickland is expected to make a couple of key decisions regarding whether to regulate advanced braking to prevent forward collisions and technology that allows vehicles-to-vehicle communications.


David Friedman, the agency’s deputy director, will take over as acting administrator after Strickland departs.


A former deputy director of the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Friedman has a history of clashing with American automakers over fuel standards.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

NHTSA Boss Strickland will Join Law Firm Venable LLP (by David Shepardson, Detroit News)

NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland Resigns (by Ashley Halsey, Washington Post)

David Strickland (AllGov)


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