The United States Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In a late night Senate session, the confirmation was part of a large package of other non-controversial nominees. Mark Rosekind was nominated nearly a year after former NHTSA boss, David Strickland, stepped down. Rosekind was a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) board member.
Rosekind, sleep scientist by training, has been on the NTSB's board since 2010. Before that, he spent 13 years as the president of Alertness Solutions and also worked for NASA for several years. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called Rosekind a "leader ready-made for this critical responsibility," adding it would be his job not only to hold automakers accountable, but "raise the bar on safety.” According to the NTSB website, Rosekind is a leading expert in human fatigue.
Rosekind has his work cut out for him; NHTSA has suffered amid harsh criticism that the agency has sat on the sidelines concerning recent auto part failure recall, such as the GM ignition switch and the Takata Corp airbag recall. A troubled website and a botched attempt to alert the public about the potentially fatal airbags have left NHTSA reeling. To put things in perspective, Joan Claybrok, a former NHTSA administrator, and hater of all things motorcycle, called the current state of affairs at the safety administration “a total meltdown, a royal embarrassment and calls into question the trustworthiness of the agency.” These are harsh words from a longtime and very loyal supporter of NHTSA.
Still pending is the Senate confirmation of Presidents Obama’s pick to head the National Transportation Safety Board, Christopher Hart.