Senate Confirms Steven Cliff to Lead National Highway Safety Agency – CBS Detroit

DETROIT (AP) – The Senate on Thursday confirmed former California pollution regulator Steven Cliff to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

President Joe Biden’s choice to lead the agency was confirmed by consent without objection or a formal roll-call vote.

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Cliff takes over as head of the highway safety agency at a critical time, about a week after estimating that nearly 43,000 people were killed on US roads last year, the highest number in 16 years.

The 10.5% jump from 2020 figures was the largest percentage increase since the agency launched its death data collection system in 1975.

Risky driving behaviors during the pandemic, such as speeding and less frequent use of seat belts, have exacerbated the problem as people began to venture more in 2021 for trips outside the country. state and other road trips, analysts said.

Cliff told the Senate Commerce Committee in December that he would work to pass regulations such as those that encourage the wearing of seat belts and that he would implement mandates under the new law on infrastructure to reduce drink-driving.

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“I’m determined to turn the tide,” Cliff said, referring to the crashing trend.

He said the Infrastructure Act would help by increasing NHTSA’s budget by 50%, with money used to increase staff and improve data collection in the United States to understand where and how accidents are happening. .

Cliff served as deputy administrator of NHTSA at a time when the agency embarked on a rewrite of vehicle fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also ordered automakers to report crashes involving automated driving systems and opened an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driver assistance system due to crashes in emergency vehicles in parking.

A message was left Thursday seeking comment from Tesla, which has disbanded its media relations department. Tesla has said in the past that neither its “Full Self-Driving” nor its Autopilot systems are fully autonomous and that drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.

NHTSA, which sets vehicle safety standards, detects safety defects, handles recalls and helps develop government fuel economy requirements, has been without a confirmed director since the departure of Mark Rosekind. end of 2016.

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