The Senate has confirmed former California pollution regulator Steven Cliff to run the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
President Joe Biden's pick to run the agency was confirmed on Thursday by consent without objections or a formal roll call vote. Cliff takes over the road safety agency at a critical time, a week after it estimated that nearly 43,000 people were killed on U.S. roads last year, the highest number in 16 years.
He told the Senate Commerce Committee in December that he would work to adopt regulations such as those urging seat belt use, and would implement mandates under the new infrastructure law to reduce drunken driving.
“I am committed to turning this around,” Cliff said, referring to the crash trend.
Cliff has served as NHTSA’s deputy administrator at a time when the agency has undertaken a rewrite of vehicle fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Automakers were also ordered to report crashes involving automated driving systems. The agency has opened an investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot partially automated driver-assist system after crashes into parked emergency vehicles were reported, the Associated Press reported.