he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has systemic flaws that undermine its ability to police auto safety. A report from the Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General cites ineffective management, sloppy investigation practices and a short-handed staff ill-trained for the task of analyzing complex automotive technology.
In a U.S. Senate hearing last week, lawmakers also blasted the agency. NHTSA deserved it. But Congress also has a responsibility to adequately finance the motoring public's watchdog and protector.
In his sixth month on the job, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind is off to a good start, pressuring automakers to police safety defects. And he promises to address the inspector general's recommendations.
Improving NHTSA will take work, but the basics are simple.
Congress must pay for effective enforcement. Rosekind and NHTSA employees should clean house and buckle down. Manufacturers need to cooperate, report vehicle defects fully and work harder to make vehicles that need fewer safety recalls.
Fixing the system will save lives and reduce injuries. Public safety must be the highest priority.