Would you believe the U.S. agency responsible for finding and investigating car defects only has 51 employees?
In light of recent events surrounding the massive General Motors recall that affected 1.6-million vehicles and has been linked to 12 deaths, the spotlight is being shined not just on the American automaker, but those responsible for finding those defects. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defect Investigations has seen its worker count decrease from 64 in 2002 to just 51 currently. In addition, its budget has been set to about $10 million annually since 2005.
Safety advocates are arguing that there aren’t enough resources to keep up with data and detect patterns, especially as the number of registered vehicles in the U.S. has grown to 248 million. That means there is only one NHTSA staff member for every 4.86 million registered vehicles. A spokesman for NHTSA, Nathan Naylor, defended the agency’s efforts stating that 929 recalls involving over 55-million vehicles have occurred in the past seven years. In addition, vehicle-related fatalities are at an all-time low, though some would argue that is attributed to advanced safety technologies.