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Senate confirms new chief of U.S. auto safety agency
December 17, 2014 / 1:57 PM / 3 years ago

Senate confirms new chief of U.S. auto safety agency

Mark Rosekind (L) testifies before a Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Capitol Hill in Washington December 3, 2014. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate confirmed Mark Rosekind to lead the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has come under criticism this year for not responding more quickly to evidence of potentially deadly vehicle defects.

Rosekind, an expert on human fatigue, has spent the past four years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates major transportation accidents. The Senate confirmed his appointment by unanimous consent late Tuesday.

He joins a small agency that has been without a permanent chief since David Strickland resigned a year ago. Deputy Administrator David Friedman has been running NHTSA in the interim.

NHTSA has come under fire from safety advocates and members of Congress for its perceived slow response to two major scandals this year: defects in Takata air bags and General Motors ignition switches.

Rosekind said at his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month that the agency needs to move faster when addressing safety crises.

“I‘m very concerned like all of you have been with the slowness across all of the recalls,” Rosekind said.

The defective Takata air bags, which can rupture upon deployment and spray metal shards into cars, have been linked to at least five deaths.

A flaw in the design of millions of GM ignition switches, which can inadvertently turn off the engine while the vehicle is being driven, has been blamed for 42 deaths.

Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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