How many people do you think the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigating automotive defects? 5,000? 2,500? 1,000? You'd be well off on all counts. It has 51. 51 investigators covering America's pool of 250 million vehicles.

That shocking stat comes courtesy of Bloomberg, which notes that the Office of Defects Investigation at NHTSA has actually decreased in size. In 2002, there were 64 employees. The office's budget, meanwhile, has remained at just $10 million since 2005, despite NHTSA as a whole getting $851 million to play around with in 2015.

"The idea of $10 million for an office that's in charge of the safety of all these vehicles, undertaking investigations and doing the recalls, it's just ridiculous," Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, told Bloomberg.

One possible solution to the issue has been proposed in the US Senate this week. According to the report, regulators would be forced to publish all information the agency collects into a searchable format, allowing various groups, from safety advocates to lawyers to other car companies to pick up the slack. That proposal would seem to come with its own set of potential problems, but considering that NHTSA's 51 Office of Defects Investigation employees are tasked with handling over 40,000 complaints from consumers, clearly something needs to be done.

"They're getting information, and they're not following up," Sally Greenberg, president of another advocacy group, the National Consumers League, told Bloomberg via phone. "They're not capturing the information in a way that's useful. They're not responding quickly to a litany of similar complaints."

Even as cars become safer and more reliable each year, the fact that there are just 51 people monitoring them for safety defects seems astonishing. Here's hoping that between the headline-grabbing recalls at Toyota and General Motors, Washington realizes that more investigators and more resources are required.


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  • 22 Comments
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      A budget of $851 million for 51 employees? What a colossal waste. Axe the entire division.. In fact, axe 99% of Washington. Keep the military for defensive purposes though.
        Dmitriy Markelov
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        This is a prime example of why the world needs better schooling. The article clearly states that the entire NHTSA has a budget of $851 million while the department that houses these 51 investigators only gets $10 million of that cut.
          Toneron
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dmitriy Markelov
          Exactly! Look what the socialist public school system has done! Ditch it!
          Hokiegrad09
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dmitriy Markelov
          @Toneron So then only those that can afford private school will get an education? Brilliant plan
          clquake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Dmitriy Markelov
          Pretty sure Toneron doesn't actually know what socialism is.
      johnbravo6
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well, that means only 51 to go.
        Card13
        • 1 Year Ago
        @johnbravo6
        Yes! Let's just get rid of them all! I'd much rather drive a vehicle that could unexpectedly malfunction and kill my family without anyone being held accountable or forced to correct the flaws.
          johnbravo6
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Card13
          Weird, I'd arbitrate if that happened to my car and family.
          lasertekk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Card13
          Why don't we be cautious and make sure it doesn't happen in the first place? Think of it as preventive maintenance.
      Toneron
      • 1 Year Ago
      We need to hire 51 more union benefit consumers to track the contents of our key chains.
      BGJ
      • 1 Year Ago
      I would bet that the politicians demanding to know why NHTSA didn't do more to force a recall earlier are the same ones that voted to cut government spending. Sort of ironic isn't it? You get what you pay for.
        Leroy Bruns
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BGJ
        You don't "get what you pay for" when governments involved. That's the problem.
      Toneron
      • 1 Year Ago
      AOL your blog is *******
      recharged95
      • 1 Year Ago
      Shocking my arse. WhatApps deals with 50million users? and was sold for $19BILLION... and has like 32 employees!
      Toneron
      • 1 Year Ago
      We need to hire 51 more union benefit consumers to track the contents of our key chains.
      Toneron
      • 1 Year Ago
      We need to hire 51 more union benefit consumers to track the contents of our key chains.
      Toneron
      • 1 Year Ago
      We need to hire 51 more union benefit consumers to track the contents of our key chains.
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      By contrast NTSB has 400 employees with a budget of $100 million.
      Kimberly Wooten
      • 1 Year Ago
      I WAS MADE AWARE THAT MY 2006 CHEVY IMPALA HAS NO SIDE CURTAIN AIRBAGS. SHOULD THIS BE A RECALL ALSO OR ARE NOT REQUIRED
      Level4
      • 1 Year Ago
      you dont need any more when you failed to realized that all consumers are per say investigators as they drive their cars...
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