With the growing complexity of motor vehicles about to become even more complex with the appearance of cars that can communicate with each other and contain ever more automatic collision avoidance systems, it will become all the more critical that NHTSA has the ability to properly implement, monitor and regulate these systems.
It is somewhat ironic that members of Congress are heaping criticism on the NHTSA for its failures. While the agency may have made some management mistakes that contributed to their failure to stop these defects years ago, there is another party that shares some of the blame.
Congress has often shown itself to be hostile to increasing the regulation necessary for the safe operation of many industries. And if NHTSA is short on resources, equipment or staff, perhaps Congress should first examine how much they have cut from NHTSA's budget requests over the last few budget cycles or by senseless stunts like sequestration, which forced automatic cuts to federal agencies.
The motor vehicles of tomorrow are not your father's vehicles, and as they become more laden with complex, sophisticated electronics, NHTSA will need greater capabilities.
They will have to deal with a significantly more complex world of automobiles than existed even 20 or 30 years ago. They will likely need a substantial increase in staff and other funding to ensure they can provide the informed supervision of these new systems.
Otherwise, more Americans will die in unnecessary and mysterious car accidents caused by defectively engineered systems due to the lack of knowledgeable oversight.