tv [untitled] CSPAN April 6, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
hearing with the head of the national highway traffic safety administration. he was qualify questioned about toyota last month. david strickland poke. here's part of that. >> chairman rush, ranking member and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the department of transportation's vision for the future of a national highway traffic safety administration and its safe -- and its important safety programs. transportation safety is department highest priority. n.h.t.s.a.'s safety programs are an interval part of addressing that priority. even before i was sworn in as administrator on january 4, i knew n.h.t.s.a.'s program worked. and they work well. we just released numbers that show a continuing dramatic reduction in the overall numbers of highway deaths. the secondary this morning
released a report that projects that traffic fatalities have declined for the 15th consecutive quarter and will be 33,963 in 2009, the lowest annual level since 1954. but we must do more. the loss of more than 33,000 people represents a serious public health problem to our nation. we will not rest until that number is zero. so how do we get there? highway safety a complex problem and n.h.t.s.a. has built a broad spectrum of programs that address both behavioral and vehicle related causes of highway death. all of our program is good data, good science, and careful engineering. when i was sworn in two months ago, i felt it was important to look at whether that was a need to improve n.h.t.s.a.'s effectiveness in this era of the global marketplace and rapidly changing technologies.
one of my first decisions was to question whether n.h.t.s.a. is being well served on the statutory reports on which is relies to regulate. current authority does work and various constituencies have learned to work with them, they were written in the 1960s and 1970 whose the world and automobile market was profoundly different. the question i pose and i questions i want to have is whether n.h.t.s.a.'s statutory authorities accommodate the marketplace even. more importantly, do they allow us to regulate in a way that allows the industry to build and sell safe products? do they allow us to promote safety, innovation, and fuel efficiency while providing effective regulatory and enforcement oversight? i've asked our legal and program staff to take a look at our existing authorities.
to answer these questions and to make their best recommendations. i believe the self-assessment is critical and supports the president's goals for transparency and accountability in government and while we are taking a hard look at our authorities, i also commit to look at the current ethics rules. i believe it is the highest established by any administration. i fully support secretary lahood's desire to tighten these rules across the department of transportation. if there is any evidence of any violations, swift and appropriate action will be taken. do we have the expertise that we need to support our programs. n.h.t.s.a. has a diverse and experienced work force. we will take full advantage of the skills, talent, and expertise. if as we go forward, we find we need to shore up our work force,
we will recruit aggressively. we are currently requesting the authority to high 66 more people next year and target these positions to meet our program needs. at this point, it appears i'm out of time. i'll cut my remarks here. i thank the committee for their time and their patience. and i stand ready for questions. thanks. the administrative and the chair recognized themselves for five minutes. the goal of the subcommittee and the relationship of n.h.t.s.a. is to look forward. and to determine for ourselves what is the best way that we can
assure and assist n.h.t.s.a. in its primary goal of protecting american citizens and americans driver. as i look at this scenario of this troth as instance as a framework, i wonder about the safety and quality of the safety of the automobiles on america's highways in general. the question that i have is what reason can you give us this -- that we should not think that
the recent recent toyota recall that would not replay itself was any other automobile dealer that puts -- manufactures automobile for america's highways. can you -- what reason can assure us that this toyota recall is really just something that is aberration as it relates to automobile safety? >> i would say this, mr. chairman, that the toyota recall while wide ranging is indicative of how n.h.t.s.a.'s uses its authority in a way to get to the bottom of something. when the secretary of
transportation took office and at the time it was acting administration tour, they were observing certain issues with toyota and they felt so strongly about it that mr. metford went to japan to inform toyota that they did not feel that toyota was holding up its obligations to inform and interact with n.h.t.s.a. in a way to address safety concerns and recall concerns. that was a beginning, that effort began, actually on december 15th. it was the day of my confirmation hearing which was a good reason why the entire staff was in japan and not at any hearing. better they be there in japan explaining to toyota what they were doing wrong that makes sitting in a hearing room in washington, d.c. when i took off in january 4, i was updated about these issues. and toyota was at that point beginning to get the message. i met with him for the first
time on january 19, informing and i learned about the sticky pedal situation. they executed their stop sale on january 21st. that effort was because the analysis of n.h.t.s.a. and the leadership of the secretary of prosecution. -- secretary of transportation. i don't see a toyota as an example of failure. i see it as n.h.t.s.a. doing its job. when our professionals use the data, make the case, and go forward we get the results that we need. i think that toyota and the wide ranging recall that it executed, that's the type of response that frankly i would want. and i think this agency is expecting. i would hope that in the future that other automakers would do the same on the same set of facts. >> you mean in the subcommittee
that the appearances that the automobiles right now, as far as n.h.t.s.a.'s concern, has a level of safety that is greater or -- greater than what we have experienced with toyota at that point? >> there's two parts. first, i would go back to the success that we just had in the regarding the current data. we are the lowest number of deaths since the recording the status since 1954. n.h.t.s.a. is deck seeding in its -- succeeding in its mission. do i feel that vehicles are generally safe or will be safe and we won't have any other issue like toyota? it's the automobile responsibility to warrant their vehicles comply with the federal vehicle safety standards. that is their responsibility. we are not branding these jobs safe. it's our job to enforce and police the marketplace, which we will do.
so as far as i'm concerned, the automakers have to not only comply with our standards and state of the war president it's my job to make sure they hold with the standards. the agency will hold that long. >> the chair's time is up. they recognize for 5 minutes. >> mr. mr. mr. strickland, thank you for joining us. i think the agency should be commended because the highways are safer today than they have ever been from a statistical stand point. you would agree with that, i'm assuming. >> yes, sir. >> now we've had heard a lot, a lot of articles and testimony recently that n.h.t.s.a. has not fulfilled the responsibility. it's a lap dog, not watchdog for
the industry. so there's been a lot of criticism about the agency. as the administrator, how would you respond to that in just a general way. do you think the criticism is valid or not valid? >> no, sir, it's not valid at all. we have been a very active agency since i've taken office. the agency has been very active. from review of the work done if we are talking about toyota specifically, this agency opened 8 separate investigations over the time period when there were complaints about sudden acceleration. a lap dog doesn't open 8 investigations. now the goal is for us and our statutory order is to find any vehicle safety defect that presents an unresponsible risk. any time a complaint or any data or anomaly in the number of complaints or what we see from the early warning system, our folks take a look at it, they go forward and investigate.
if we cannot find the defect, we cannot go forward and force a mandatory recall. that doesn't mean we think the vehicle is safe. but at that point, we cannot make the statutory case. but we will keep looking. and as we have -- we keep looking and when we find the defect such as in the instance of the floor mat entrapment or the strikey medal or the prius brakes, we act and act quickly. i don't think the history in our action before the area or the 10-year period that a lot of people are looking at, i think the agency has been quite active. >> okay. now if you find a defect, then you can require a mandatory recall, is that correct? >> yes, sir. we can. >> okay. and i've heard a lot of discussion about subpoena power. it's my understanding that you can issue information requests. >> yes, sir. >> and so the manufacturers have
to respond to that question? >> there's a difference between the subpoena and information request. i know a lot of people talk about we have subpoena power. yes, we can compel a subpoena for documents. we want to get every document that you have on a question. yes, they have to give that to us. information request they have to respond, but it has a better purpose. we not only get documents but ask direct questions. it's a much sharper tool and the agency uses that quite frequently. in fact, we sent three large queries for the time of their submission to us regarding the floor mats and the sticky pedal. we sent a large recall asking toyota for all of their information and answer questions about all of the sudden acceleration incidents. which would be a large amount of documents and data for us to review. if we find in the review of those documents that there is a
violation, we will move forward accordingly. >> have you found the lack of subpoena power a hindrance that the agency doing its power effectively? >> in my work of the review in toyota, while toyota has been slow in years past, i will say they have not been as responsive as my career staff feel they should have been in responses. since i have been in office, they have been very responsive. i would hope that will continue in the future. but in the terms of the about of our subpoena power and get information request issued and responded to, i've gotten in evidence that that has been a problem in terms of getting response. >> i know most of your budget money goes to the states for grants. the rest is spent between behavior safety and vehicle safety, is that correct? >> that is correct, sir. >> i know in 2005, congress directed n.h.t.s.a. to conduct a
national motor vehicle crash causation survey. and at that time, it came back and said that 95% of crashes were due primarily to driver fault or negligence. are you familiar with that study or do you have any thoughts on that? >> i am -- i am a little bit familiar with it. i can't give you chapter and verse. i can talk in more specifics about behavior. that is the largest component of risk on the highway. which is the reason why the n.h.t.s.a. budget is designed to attack the highest risk, impaired driverring, not wearing belts, driving distracted, those are the hugest risk for everyone on the road today. vehicle defects are important. we have to address them. they are significant. but in terms of overall risk pro file for highway safety, the behavioral side of the house so to speak comprises a largest risk. that's the reason why our program for safety is designed the way it is. >> thank you.
>> thank you. >> chairman, you are recognized for five minutes. >> my question is in view of the time shortage, i want yes or no answers. >> yes, mr. dingell. >> mr. administrator, do you believe the n.h.t.s.a. made mistakes in the response to the toyota recalls? >> no, sir, i do not. >> should n.h.t.s.a. push toyota to initiate recalls earlier than it did? >> sir, we pushed the recalls when we have the evidence of an unresponsible risk defect. >> all right. but yes or no. >> the answer is yes, we responded appropriately. >> okay. thank you. what authorities does n.h.t.s.a. lack whether under tread act or otherwise which with to address defects in automobile deemed hazardous?
please submit. >> yes, sir. >> yes or no, does n.h.t.s.a. have in place a ranking system for determining the priority of defects investigation yes or no. >> the answer is no. but we rank risk by profile internally. there isn't a one through 10. >> thank you. there seemed to be broad agreement about the need to increase resources for n.h.t.s.a. to carry out its mission. do you need additional resources, yes or no? >> the president's budget gives us more resources. we will have the resources we need. >> all right. please submit to us for the record how much more resources you need in what area? >> yes, sir. >> i want that submitted directly to the committee and not through omb. >> yes, sir. >> now, in my questioning of james lentz, toyota's chief sales for new york -- north america, he revealed decisions
to sell in north america are made in japan. do any other manufacturers require that your information for details or decisions made relative to recalls are made in any country outside this united states? is toyota unique in that, yes or no. >> it appears toyota is unique, yes, sir. >> all right. it strikes me this is a bad situation inas far as safety for the american people. >> it seems toyota could be more efficient. >> by having to make the response in the united states by somebody empowered to require with our laws. >> i would feel if they had somebody in america, we could act more quickly, yes, sir. >> now, i would like to america
how this would be corrected. now, is there a quantititive difference in response times between domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers to n.h.t.s.a.'s data inquiries? yes or no. >> the domestic and manufacturers tend to response faster than the foreign, yes, sir. >> what is the cause for this? >> there are several reasons in terms of design of leadership as you mentioned and other factors. >> is it the case of toyota, is it because of the information has to be procured from toyota instead of receiving it directly from here. >> that has been identified by toyota itself as a problem. >> this is also true with regard to the question of recall? >> yes, sir. >> the decision is make in tokyo? >> yes, sir. >> is there a qualityive or quantititive difference? >> the quality is because they
are statutorily required, the quality of data is very similar between foreign and domestic. >> similar. that doesn't mean it's the same. >> they have different data sets because of the manufacturing and information processes they comply to our system. so they are similar. >> all right. why was it a secretary of transportation and the secretary -- rather and the acting head of n.h.t.s.a. had to go to tokyo to get cooperation of toyota on recalls and production of information? >> they were responding to n.h.t.s.a. and the acting administrator and secretary too slowly. >> they had to go over there. why? >> because at the time, the secretary and the acting administrator felt they needed to go directly to convey that message. >> so they had to convey that message because the message was too urge toyota to comply more
expeditionly with the safety concerns? >> that is correct. >> i'm sorry. >> that is correct. >> okay. so they had to do it to get more expedition cooperation from toyota? >> yes, sir. that's correct. >> mr. chairman, i thank you for your courtesy. >> tonight a discussion on the federal oversight of car safety standards with former administrators of the national highway traffic safety administration. along with dave, the president and ceo of the alliance of automobile manufacturers. viewers can also call in or tweet their questions. that's live at 8 p.m. eastern here on c-span. c-span.org and c-span radio. >> i know what the challenge is. and we're in a unique position to go to work. what we need is policymakers in washington is to develop a road map so we can get it done.
>> something about energy policy that you'd like to talk about on your blog? at the new c-span video library you can search it, watch it, clip it, and share it. over 160,000 hours of video from yesterday or 10 years ago. every c-span program since 1987. the c-span video library. cable's latest gift to america. >> this year's c-span studentcam competition asked middle and high school students to create a five to eight minute video dealing with one of the our country's greatest strength or challenge the country is facing. here's one of the third place winners. ♪ ♪ ♪
[applause] >> one of our nation's greatest strength are the arts. >> hey there, my name is john turman, and this is art for the sake of work. listen up, we've interviewed several professional artist to find out what sets american art apart. in austin, texas, the live music capital of the world, the arts of the highest importance to the community. this is the central location for ars gratia opus. what are the arts? art is defined as the conscious use of skill and key crave imagination. in america, there's no shortage of imagination in the slightest. why are the arts important? according to the stephen
sheppard, average citizens depend on art to carry them through difficult economic time for not only do they provide entertainment, but they also provide for the culture needs of the society at large. and in a study done by north adams in hartford, new york, business, laws with and health care are among the fields in the modern society. the message of the study is under the right conditions, culture can pay. >> $5 trillion of american's household wealth evaporated in the span of three months. that was just one here ago. >> it's hard to imagine the arts would be prosperous during the time of economic recovery. that's not what these artists had to say. we first talked to mrs. coltman, she grew up in south africa. after earning several agrees, she moved to the u.s. with her
husband, peter. >> you think it's extremely valuable for people of all ages to be able to use music as a place to go to retreat from our technological world, to find beauty and to find peace, and just enjoyment. after 9/11, i noticed my piano studented that increase the the practice time, they find a security in playing when the country was in turmoil. they feel happy to be in the music. in the funny kind of the way where the country are the arts are dependent on individuals giving to a large extent, this is the official and not official. >> uh-huh. >> i love playing. of course music doesn't create unless somebody playing it. i love teaching it. i love to see understandings
come to somebody eyes when i'm teaching. it's a great joy to be able to help them, technically, musically, and theoretically. >> there you have it. like mrs. coltman said, american citizens use the arts as a retreat and an economic struggle is both a good and a bad things for artist. for it may provide inspiration, but it does not provide an incentive for corporate sponsors to donate to the arts as opposed to a time of economic prosperity. >> we have to have winners and losers in the economy to be prosperous. if we all are medium, no one is going to try to do better. no one is going to get paid for their kind of success. >> our next artist is a class blower named nick. right now we're on the way to his studio. >> three hours away. on the way max and i began to talk about how our economy has done in this past year.
>> we have stimulated the economy to grow. and the first quarter of this year, we were down a minus 6.4%. in 11/24/09, we are 2.8 plus, a swing of 9.2% in our gdp. so we are very proud of this. >> and here we are wimberly glass works. there's nick. nick holds degree from the university of texas and austin and the rhode island school of design. >> arts give the nation or any nation a visual vocabulary. we are constantly trying to reinvest ourself. sure, the economy means they don't have as much money to hire
an artist. this is a threshold time period. there's going to be some artist a bit successful to not be able to make it through the economy. but the artist that really tries to utilize the economy or utilize the opportunities that open up during this economy, they are the ones that are going to succeed in the end. they are going to come out through this time period and relate having the places in our society. >> in a recent article published by the wall street journal, writer states on a global scale, the art market has not been doing well. but in america, the art market is thriving. recently, some collectors in the u.s. have rejoined the top examples of artist works. >> our third and final artist is ms. susan loughran. >> certainly the arts are first
up on the chopping block. especially in times of economic difficulties, i think the arts have a great power. in some ways people look to the arts and they want to be entertained. they have an inspiring and provide the kind of support that people need in hard economic times. but i don't think that hard economic times are good for the arts. and the arts really are more about your soul and your heart rather than things that are lucrative like money-making things. it's not that kind of a feel. people with dreams and energy, that's very inspiring. i count myself blessed to be a teacher and to be a teacher in the arts. >> the arts of america are so strong that inspite of the recent economic recession, the arts are still able to thrive. ♪ ♪