National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Strickland, 45, is stepping down after heading the agency since January 2010, The Detroit News reports, but his plans after NHTSA haven't been announced. It's expected that he'll leave within the next couple of months, after which David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy director, will head the agency until a new chief is appointed.

Strickland's NHTSA is best known for handling investigations of millions of Toyota vehicles in the midst of the automaker's sudden-acceleration woes and subsequent recalls, and for helping to broker a deal between the Obama administration and automakers to raise Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

In an increasingly technology-dependent auto industry, the agency under Strickland also has drafted and finalized regulations for distracted driving, electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles, along with overseeing investigations into electrified vehicles including the Tesla Model S and Chevrolet Volt. It was under his watch that NHTSA enacted a minimum sound requirement for EVs and required seatbelts on commercial buses and event data recorders ("black boxes") in every new car.

While not everything in the NHTSA's agenda was accomplished with Strickland at the helm – a rear-visibility law finalized in 2007 that continues to be delayed comes to mind – Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer gives some context:

"David Strickland has an impressive list of accomplishments during his time at NHTSA... 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."



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  • 49 Comments
      Robert Fahey
      • 1 Year Ago
      A rather unenviable job. Everything the agency does has massive impact on litigation, politics and product marketing dollars. It\'s in the middle of every pissing contest.
      E85 450HP Forester
      • 1 Year Ago
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        E85 450HP Forester
        • 1 Year Ago
        @E85 450HP Forester
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      dukeisduke
      • 1 Year Ago
      ...to spend more quality time with his cheeseburgers.
      willied
      • 1 Year Ago
      That's going to be a "big" position to fill.
      Carboy45
      • 1 Year Ago
      Mr. Strickland's "accomplishments" amount to an ever increasing intrusion into an important area of our economy the certain results of which will increase the cost of all of our cars and provide virtually no measurable improvements in safety or reliability. The free market could have addressed all the issues he and his agency intruded into. We would have been better off had he done nothing.
        Dmitriy Markelov
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Carboy45
        The free market has made far too many fatal mistakes in the past hundred years to be left entirely to its own devices.
          Levine Levine
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dmitriy Markelov
          The Free Market brought forth the horseless carriage, ethanol, octane, synthetic rubber, synthetic lubricant, electric starter, high strength steel, aluminum block, electronic ignition, fuel injection, multi-variable valves, power hydraulic brakes, power steering, automatic transmission, disc brake, double wish-bond suspension, gas-pressurized shock absorbers, traction control, cruise control, EGR, catalytic converter, air conditioning, radio, LCD, DVD, window safety glass, air bag, FOB keyless lock, etc..... Surely, the Free Market is allowed to make a few mistakes in the past hundred years.
          William
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dmitriy Markelov
          Dmitriy, The myriad mistakes of unfree markets dwarf those of free markets.
          King of Eldorado
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dmitriy Markelov
          @ Levine: OK, but to be fair, some of those were developed by the free market in response to government mandates on exhaust emissions (egr, catalytic converter...), fuel economy (fuel injection, ethanol...), and safety (high-strength steel, safety glass, airbags...) .
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Carboy45
        --"and provide virtually no measurable improvements in safety or reliability." Spoken like someone never in a car crash.
      KickinCanada
      • 1 Year Ago
      I became a fan of Strickland ever since I saw him appear in front of congressional hearing defending the Volt. He did great despite the ridiculous questioning and being constantly interrupted. Seems like a good leader who did much good while with the agency. Wish him the best.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @KickinCanada
        Yes, I remember that hearing. He did well.
        Levine Levine
        • 1 Year Ago
        @KickinCanada
        He should not defend any car, Volt or otherwise. Let the manufactures defend their product. Who said GM is so stupid that it can't defend the Volt, but has to rely on a government bureaucrat? Truth be told, he was defending his agency that imposed certain regulations upon the auto industry.
          axiomatik
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Levine Levine
          He didn't really have a choice, he was summoned to appear before a congressional hearing. He had to answer the questions posed to him. That said, the entire hearing was a complete farce, a political witch-hunt to please the Fox News crowd. Seriously, why in the world does Congress need to investigate a singe car that caught fire weeks after being destroyed in crash testing?
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      New NHTSA regulation, you have to be able to fit in the seat of any car they test without a seatbelt extender.
      Dmitriy Markelov
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good for him. It looks like he did a great job while there and will likely move onto something more rewarding.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dmitriy Markelov
        Doing a "great job" with the NHTSA is a bit of anomaly since its primary objective is to "keep us safe" with ever intrusive measures that do more in terms of adding to the cost and complexity of cars than anything else. In other words, all it takes these days is coming up with more regs to appear busy to justify your overinflated salary.
          flyingfortresb17
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          Whine, Whine, Whine. you sound like a broken record. Offer safer cars. Offer better safety restraint systems. the only thing you offer is mouth noises.
          Chris
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          Yeah safer cars with black boxes that can be used to track us, or proposing mandatory backup cameras in all cars? Because we totally need those things right? People like you are part of the problem and why we're becoming more of a nanny state by the day. And mouth noises? If you're hearing anything from me then perhaps you're schizophrenic.
          axiomatik
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          Chris, you have no idea what you are talking about. The NHTSA did not propose the backup camera requirement, it was a law enacted by Congress, and now the NHTSA has to figure out how to implement this law. In fact, it is the NHTSA that keeps delaying it's implementation. If you don't want backup cameras, call your representative, Congress is responsible.
      EVnerdGene
      • 1 Year Ago
      I heard he's going to head obamacare.
        EZEE2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @EVnerdGene
        I think even liberals would quietly think that him running it might not be a bad thing.
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief David Strickland, may be a hard working public servant who has made a significant contribution to making America's roads a safer place. However, what I don't understand is why the head of the NHTSA, a public servant, is'brokering' political policy deal regarding "raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards ?" I may be wrong, but fuel consumption doesn't seem to a 'safety' issue, and praiseworthy as raising vehicle mileage maybe, it seems improper for public servants to become political advocates or deal brokers, for any government, administration, or politician. But, maybe I misjudge Mr Strickland, and it's part of his duties.
        Nick Kordich
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        The NHTSA Administrator has been responsible for overseeing the CAFE standards since 1975, when President Ford signed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act into law. In 2006, President Bush asked Congress for the authority to raise CAFE standards directly and to allow credit trading (much like the California Air Resource Board's ZEV credits), but was denied. As a result, the President still works through NHTSA to submit a proposal to Congress for changes to CAFE standards, which Congress can then opt to reject or allow to take effect. "it seems improper for public servants to become political advocates or deal brokers, for any government, administration, or politician." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an agency under the Department of Transportation, part of the Executive Branch, and its Administrator is appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. There's no pretense of him being part of a politically-neutral civil service. You might as well say a President shouldn't be an advocate for his administration - they are both roles in the same administration. It seems improper to me for any public servant to have been involved in politics, too, and yet it's rare to find an elected official who never campaigned under a political party or a political appointee who didn't get their job through political appointment. Go figure.
          Nick Kordich
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          "You might as well say a President shouldn't be an advocate for his administration - they are both roles in the same administration." Let me say in advance of any impending down-rankings, I didn't say this intending to come off as a troll, and retract this bit. Being realistic, the Administrator will reflect views compatible with the President who appointed him or her, and this is and will remain a politically-charged position, but this was hyperbole on my part.
      Scr
      • 1 Year Ago
      Probably got a really high-paying lobbying gig for the auto industry or will go to work for one of the Big Three or the UAW. I thought he was a bit overreaching and overzealous in his position, dictating regulations by fiat like his boss, Obama, without due process or congressional approval. He politicized the NHTSA's job just like the EPA is. He wasn't a public servant, he served the only the administration.
      mawhalen53
      • 1 Year Ago
      Tough time to be NHTSA chief with the rapid advances in vehicle technology.
        Levine Levine
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mawhalen53
        Qualification to be NHTSA Chief: 1) proper political affiliation 2) talk from both side of mouth 3) cater to special interest groups that have political connections
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Levine Levine
          we got the best gov'ment money can buy
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