Biden Nominates Carlson for Top NHTSA Role

Ann Carlson
Carlson via; Los Angeles highway traffic by Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

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President Joe Biden announced Ann Carlson as his nominee to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The White House indicated on Feb. 13 it will refer Carlson’s nomination to the U.S. Senate. A committee hearing to consider her nomination will be scheduled after the referral from the White House.

Carlson currently serves as the agency’s acting administrator.

Per background the White House provided, she “directs the setting of fuel economy regulations for cars and trucks, and leads the testing and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies.”

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She also led the “timely reporting of safety data on vehicles equipped with automated driving systems and advanced driver assistance systems, initiated rulemaking to require automatic emergency braking in heavy-duty vehicles and pedestrian automatic emergency braking in light-duty vehicles, and helped secure a historic 50% increase in resources for the agency” as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to the White House.

Her academic background includes degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Harvard Law School.

NHTSA data estimated that nearly 43,000 traffic fatalities occurred in 2021, marking a 10.5% increase from the previous year.

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Last summer, Steven Cliff stepped down from NHTSA’s top spot for a leadership role at the California Air Resources Board. Cliff, confirmed by the Senate for the NHTSA post in May 2022, previously served as the agency’s deputy administrator. He had told senators his efforts would focus on autonomous vehicle technologies and safety programs.

In August, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg praised Cliff’s contributions at the agency. “Thanks to administrator Cliff for his tremendous service and leadership at NHTSA and his work to protect the lives of the American people by strengthening the safety of motor vehicles and reducing their emissions,” wrote the secretary on social media.

Also awaiting consideration in the Senate are nominees for leadership roles at Amtrak and the Federal Aviation Administration.