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From Products Liability Law Daily, February 3, 2015

Obama looks to increase FY 2016 budget for NHTSA

By Joe Bichl

President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2016 includes allotting $908 million for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a 9 percent increase from the agency’s current $830 million budget, most of which will fund highway project grants administered by the states. The proposal includes significant increases from the FY 2015 budget request for vehicle defect programs, behavioral research efforts, and efforts to modernize the agency’s data systems.

Broken down, of the $908 million, $577 million would go to highway traffic safety grants, $179 million would go to vehicle safety, and $152 million would fund highway safety research and development.

According to the agency, the 2016 budget request will allow NHTSA to conduct rulemaking, enforcement, and vehicle research, as well as to develop and implement data-driven, workable, and self-sustaining highway safety programs that reduce highway injuries and fatalities.

ODI budget nearly triples. The budget would also nearly triple funding for NHTSA’s division that investigates vehicle safety defects. The White House proposed allocating $31.3 million to NHTSA’s Office of Defect Investigation, up from $11 million for FY 2015. The request would bring ODI’s headcount from 51 to 108 employees, including 22 engineers, plus additional investigators, statisticians, and other workers to improve the department’s ability to detect and analyze safety defects.

Priority areas. One of the top priorities for NHTSA is vehicle safety. The Vehicle Safety program includes vehicle research, enforcement, rulemaking, and data collection and analysis. In this area, the White House agrees and has increased its funding request for the Office of Defects Investigation.

Highway safety is also a priority area. While strengthening NHTSA’s long-term focus on impaired driving and occupant protection, the FY 2016 budget includes a number of new approaches to address emerging safety concerns and to use resources more efficiently. Educating roadway users and community leaders to adopt safe behaviors, in conjunction with effective law enforcement, has helped to reduce fatalities to the lowest levels in reported history.

Another priority for the agency is traffic safety grants. The GROW AMERICA Act proposes to continue these grant programs and funding for In-Vehicle Alcohol Detection Device Research. MAP-21 (P.L. 112-141) codified state performance measurement activities that contribute to the ongoing progress and effectiveness of NHTSA highway safety grant programs.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind has said that his agency is “woefully underfunded.” He praised the FY 2016 budget, saying that it will “ensure that NHTSA has the people and funding it needs to carry out our mission, and that we can make the best possible use of the resources available by investing in innovation.”

MainStory: TopStory NHTSANewsStory MotorVehiclesNews

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