The man responsible for traffic safety in the United States, David Strickland, visited the North American International Auto Show – NAIAS – this week promoting the Obama Administration’s jobs and re-election agenda – or at least “the let’s talk, but do little to help,” part of the endless campaign, with nary a word about traffic safety from the well fed administrator who feeds from the public trough.
This taxpayer financed campaign junket for Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (and not the jobs administration) came as automakers debuted a bewildering array of electronic gadgets and web enabled instrument panels that surely will add to the deadly distracted driving epidemic that’s well underway.
Let’s be clear here, NHTSA is paid by taxpayers to promote safety, not jobs, even if it is the political message of the moment, given the Democrats rejection at the polls last November, and ongoing devastating unemployment rates that is wreaking havoc with the economy and a growing budget deficit.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood – Strickland’s boss – has repeatedly criticized the growing use of electronics in automobiles that NHTSA claims it is powerless to regulate. NHTSA (part of DOT) is prohibited by the U.S. Congress from promulgating national regulations concerning driving safety, including distracted driving; so LaHood has been using his “bully pulpit” to oppose or give the appearance of opposing the well-financed auto, electronics and cell phone companies whose devices are enabling almost 6,000 deaths each year and more than 500,000 injuries, according to the latest NHTSA statistics. A total of 33,808 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. Another 2.22 million people were injured.
You would never know it from Strickland, though, who gushed in a blog post that “everywhere I went at the show, the buzzword was ‘jobs.’ Automakers are now increasing production, and that means they are hiring to a limited degree. GM and Chrysler each said they are looking to hire 1,000 engineers in Michigan this year. GM is also adding a shift at a plant in Orion, MI, and Chrysler plans to run add a shift at its Sterling Heights, MI, facility–a factory that had once been slated to close. Toyota is also hiring 2,000 for its plant in Tupelo, Mississippi.”
Till, not a word about safety from an Obama Administration appointee who unlike many Obama appointees actually appears qualified or semi-qualified for his job since he served for eight years on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Strickland was also the Senior Counsel for the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, where he was the lead staff person for the oversight of NHTSA, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
So Mr. Strickland please stop the endless campaign and go back to – or start – doing the job taxpayers are paying you to do – safety and the enforcement of safety regulations.