TodayApril 16, 2022

Is NHTSA about jobs or safety? Ray LaHood

Is Ray LaHood doing the job he was hired to do?

The Department of Transportation is an agency of the Executive Branch of the U.S. government. Inside the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Anthony Foxx is the current head of Transportation or DOT. Thus he is the current head of NHTSA.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s website (NHTSA), “NHTSA was established to reduce the number of deaths, injuries, and economic losses resulting from traffic accidents on national highways.”

On December 19, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he would nominate Ray LaHood to be the next Transportation Secretary. It was a tough first term for President Obama. The Nation was going through an economic free fall and two of the Big 3 automotive companies, General Motors, Chrysler, were on the verge of bankruptcy and taking the rest of the nation with them. The Washington Post reported that in 2008, during the Nation’s economic free fall, LaHood secured $60 million in earmarks for his district, $9 million went to campaign donors.

Anyone can understand how there might be bigger issues at play at that time. But General Motors and NHTSA had known about the matter with the ignition switch switching to accessory if the keychain was too heavy and they did nothing about it. But where was NHTSA? Where was Secretary Ray LaHood from 2009-2013? Why didn’t he, as the ombudsman to our Nation’s automobile safety, demand General Motors take care of the situation?

Did Secretary LaHood have other issues on his plate? Certainly, President Obama did. In 2012 President Obama was getting beat up over the jobs issue. Would that one issue become the deciding factor of whether or not people would vote for President Obama again?

Each time I heard Secretary LaHood talk he included jobs in his discussions. I heard him speak of Transportation and the American jobs at different events over the years from 2009-2011 as evidenced in these videos.

It got to the point that I wondered whether he knew if he was supposed to be implementing safety regulations or creating jobs. So, in 2012, I asked him. And this is what he said.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.