WASHINGTON Dec 12 David L. Strickland, who
oversaw a massive Toyota recall and helped formulate plans to
dramatically boost U.S. fuel efficiency standards as head of the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is stepping
down, his office said on Thursday.
The date of Strickland's departure was not announced but the
NHTSA said his deputy, David Friedman, would be acting director.
Strickland became chief of the NHTSA in January 2010 after
eight years as counsel to a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce,
Science and Transportation Committee, which has oversight of the
Shortly after taking the NHTSA job, Strickland found himself
dealing with a Toyota recall that eventually covered more than 2
million vehicles in the United States because of unintended
acceleration, attributed to problems with floor mats and gas
The NHTSA fined Toyota $32 million for delays in notifying
the agency and correcting the acceleration problems. The agency
also stepped up its enforcement of recall regulations to make
them more timely.
Strickland also served as the Obama administration's point
man in getting automakers to agree to nearly double fuel
efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Thirteen
auto companies, including General Motors Co, Ford Motor
Co, Chrysler, Toyota Motor Corp and
Honda Motor Co, agreed to the plan.
"David Strickland has an impressive list of accomplishments
during his time at NHTSA," said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at
Kelley Blue Book. "He's clearly a passionate safety advocate
that brought that passion to the role.
"While several unresolved issues remain on David
Strickland's docket ... he would likely never find a moment
where all open cases are resolved. The agency has survived
changes in leadership before, and it should survive this one
without letting anything fall between the cracks."