National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was created by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 as an agency of the United States government’s executive branch and their Department of Transportation. Today, the NHTSA is primarily known for authoring and applying Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and conducting crash testing—vehicles that receive the annual NHTSA Five-Star Safety Rating are regarded as the safest in their segments.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration logo.
Photo courtesy of NHTSA

Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration focuses their efforts on raising awareness of key issues that affect drivers and non-drivers alike. These include:

Construction Worker Crossing Guard Holding Stop Sign

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is dedicated to pedestrian safety.

Pedestrian Safety

With the mantra “Everyone is a Pedestrian,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests safety tips for drivers and walkers of all ages (i.e. use sidewalks, stay alert, look in all directions when crossing), statistics (“On average, a pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.” – Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians, August 2013), resources, programs, and activities.

Car seat

Ensure that you have properly installed your child’s safety seat.

Child Safety

  • The NHTSA’s child safety hub provides information on how to make the right choice when it comes to buying a booster seat, installation tips, optimum child securing advice, child seat inspection station locator, and a wealth of instructional videos.

Here at The News Wheel, we regularly review children’s car seats to help you find the best safety options for your family, part of The News Wheel Guide to Car Seat Safety

drunk driving

Do NOT drive drunk!

Drunk Driving

  • With the memorable slogan of “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” the NHTSA aims to cut down on the amount of impaired driving-related fatalities (there were more than 10,000 such fatalities in 2010) by way of bringing attention to the fact that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration impaired driving page also supplies case studies and Products for Law Enforcement Action Kit (PEAK) materials to help police officers better assess drunk driver symptoms and behaviors.
  • Additional DUI resources:
texting driving

Never text while driving–not even at stoplights.

Distracted Driving

  • Raises awareness of the dangers of texting and driving through the release of data and surveys, as well as by reaching out to those who lost ones they love to texting while driving. The NHTSA’s D! website provides viable information (i.e. texting increasing the likelihood of a crash by 23 percent, cell phone usage being reported in 18 percent of all distracted-driving fatalities in America) and ways for parents, educators, and community groups to get involved.
teenage driving

Make sure your teenager is safe behind the wheel.

Teen Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds teenaged drivers that their right to drive is not as much a right as it is a privilege, and that the only way to keep their privilege is to follow the rules. NHTSA’s measures to educate teens and parents include spotlighting the topics of seat belt usage, graduated driver licensing, reducing access to alcohol, and parental responsibility. The NHTSA reports that motor vehicle-related incidents are the leading individual cause of death among teens.

Gas can

Automakers everywhere are working to increase fuel-efficiency across vehicle lineups.

Fuel Economy/Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets fuel economy standards for US-made vehicles. Working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the NHTSA creates these standards in an effort to ease the financial burden of fuel buying for drivers while also serving to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Furthermore, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) program incentivizes the production of more fuel efficient vehicles for U.S. automakers in order to decrease the footprint of the automotive industry on the environment.

“Click It or Ticket” (Seat Belt Awareness)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reminds drivers that police officers nationwide are cracking down on drivers and passengers seen not wearing their seat belts properly. Click It or Ticket (CIoT) has become the most successful seat belt awareness-raising/enforcement campaign and has served to increase national seat belt usage on the whole. The CIoT website also offers Mobilization Campaign Materials, PEAK Enforcement Materials, and information on seat belts and why they are vital in saving occupants’ lives.

Connected Vehicles

Focused on the advancement of telematics—the sharing of information between your vehicle and other vehicles on the road—in the effort toward preventing accidents by transferring information between vehicles (and utilizing technology such as predictive braking and adaptive cruise control) and notifying emergency services quickly in the event of an accident. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studies show that vehicle to vehicle (V2V) technology could resolve up to eighty percent of potential crash scenarios involving non-impaired drivers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Association is also responsible for compiling complaints from vehicle owners and drivers, investigating claims, and issuing safety recalls in order to ensure optimum driver and passenger safety. Some of the NHTSA’s most high-profile recalls include:

  • The 2009 Ford recall of more than 14 million affected models regarding the potential spontaneous combustion of cruise-control switches
  • The 1996 Ford recall of 7.9 million models for faulty ignition switches, which were reported to have resulted in electrical shorts and steering-column meltdowns.
  • The 2010 recall of 6.67 million Toyota and Lexus models for an issue involving unintended acceleration—the issue resulted in one recall for a potential accelerator pedal-jamming floor mat, and then a second for a “sticky accelerator pedal.”
  • The 1978 recall of 1.4 million Ford Pintos regarding the potential for gas tank combustion in even a minor rear-end collision.
  • The 2000 NHTSA investigation that led Firestone to voluntarily recall 6.5 million tires in the wake of a near-300 reported tire failures, which were linked to at least 46 deaths between 1997 and 2000.