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Audit Initiated of NHTSA’s Oversight of Vehicle and Equipment Defects Investigations

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for motor vehicle safety and its Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) investigates safety defects, oversees safety recall campaigns, and assesses recall effectiveness. This includes NHTSA’s continued efforts to oversee the largest-ever automotive recall, involving defective airbags manufactured by TK Holdings Inc. (Takata). Over the past several years, NHTSA has managed this recall, and as reported in December 2020, about 50 million airbags have been replaced. However, an estimated 11 million vehicles with the recalled airbags remain on the road. Identifying vehicle safety defects and monitoring recalls remains key to reducing overall traffic crashes and fatalities. To better meet this goal, NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation recently restructured the office and reformed its processes. Our objective for this self-initiated audit is to assess NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation’s current processes for identifying and investigating safety defects.