Firestone & Ford May Deserve Punishment, But NHTSA Doesn’t Deserve a Reward

Firestone & Ford May Deserve Punishment, But NHTSA Doesn’t Deserve a Reward

Given NHTSA's Past Safety Disasters, There's No Justification for Expanding Its Powers or Budget
September 12, 2000

Washington, DC, September 12, 2000 – The Competitive Enterprise Institute today warned in the Wall Street Journal against expanding NHTSA in the wake of the Firestone/Ford tire fiasco.  NHTSA apparently failed to act on the Firestone tire data that it received from State Farm over two years ago, yet Congress now appears to be on the verge of expanding its budget and powers.  CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman stated:  “When companies fail to act properly in the marketplace, they get punished.  But the consequence of NHTSA’s inaction will apparently be to reward it through increased funding and power.  The example being set here will only encourage regulatory ineptness.”

More importantly, NHTSA’s own record of safety disasters is a compelling reason to restrict the agency rather than expand it.  CEI pointed to three major safety blunders committed by the agency:

· a truck brake standard which was judicially overturned in 1978.  Despite growing evidence that the standard made trucking more dangerous, the agency refused to shelve its rule until a federal court ordered it to do so;<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


· NHTSA’s air bag mandate, whose risks to children were either ignored or concealed by the agency until they became headline news;


· NHTSA’s new-car fuel economy (CAFE) program, whose downsizing effect on cars leads to over 2,000 additional fatalities per year.  The agency’s whitewash of this program has been criticized by two federal appeals courts, but NHTSA continues to push for more hazardous CAFE standards.


Any increase in NHTSA’s budget or legal power will only increase the odds of more such regulatory disasters in the future.



CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Emily McGee, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.