NHTSA's No. 2 official Medford leaves for Google
Ron Medford: "New adventure" at Google.
Ron Medford, the No. 2 official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will leave his post at the end of November to become safety director for the self-driving cars project at Google Inc.
Medford, 64, who has worked in government for four decades and joined NHTSA in 2003, was named acting deputy administrator the month that President Obama took office. The U.S. Senate confirmed him to that position the following year.
As the No. 2 official behind NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, Medford played a major role in safety-minded projects, such as a review of how new corporate average fuel economy rules will affect the crashworthiness of cars and trucks.
"He has been an indispensable part of our efforts to make cars safer, eliminate accidents caused by drunk and distracted driving, and improve fuel economy for drivers across the country," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
In a message today to colleagues at the agency, Medford said he is excited to start a "new adventure" at Google, which claimed this summer to have logged 300,000 miles on U.S. roads with modified cars that drive themselves.
"Many of you have spent decades here at this special agency because of the powerful impact it has on reducing deaths and injuries that would otherwise leave families devastated -- and I will always think of NHTSA and of your work with the utmost respect and appreciation," Medford said in his farewell message to colleagues.
Google confirmed Medford's hiring but had no further comment.
Self-driving cars are still in the experimental phase, but Google co-founder Sergey Brin has boasted that the company's technology could make them available to the public within a decade.
The government is keeping a close eye on the safety of the technology, and how a motorist might use it. For instance, NHTSA researchers have started studying what cockpit controls a person would continue to need in a computer-driven vehicle.
You can reach Gabe Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.