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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590


ADMINISTRATORSteven Cliff, Acting
Deputy Administrator(vacancy)
Executive DirectorJack Danielson

The above list of key personnel was updated 9–2021.

The above list of key personnel was updated 9–2021.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 (23 U.S.C. 401 note) to reduce the number of deaths, injuries, and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes on the Nation's highways.

The Administration administers motor vehicle and related equipment safety performance programs; co-administers the State and community highway safety program; regulates the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program; issues Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that prescribe safety features and levels of safety-related performance for vehicles and vehicular equipment; rates the safety of passenger vehicles in the New Car Assessment Program; monitors and participates in international vehicle safety forums to harmonize the FMVSS where appropriate; investigates and prosecutes odometer fraud; administers the National Driver Register Program; conducts studies and operates programs to reduce economic losses in motor vehicle crashes and repairs; performs studies, conducts demonstration projects, and issues regulations requiring manufacturers to provide motor vehicle consumer information; promotes programs to reduce impaired driving, to reduce risky driver behaviors, and to increase seat belt use; and issues theft prevention standards for passenger motor vehicles.


Research and Program Development

The Administration helps develop motor vehicle and highway safety program standards. It analyzes data and researches, develops, tests, and evaluates motor vehicles, motor vehicle equipment, and advanced technologies, and it collects and analyzes crash data. NHTSA activities are broad in scope with respect to safety: The Administration encourages industry to adopt advanced motor vehicle safety designs, increases public awareness of safety issues, and provides a base for vehicle safety information.

Regional Operations and Program Delivery

The NHTSA administers State highway safety grant programs that the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users authorized. The Highway Safety formula grant program provides funds to States, Indian nations, and the territories each year to support safety programs, particularly in the following priority areas: data and traffic records, emergency medical services, impaired driving, motorcycle safety, occupant protection, pedestrian and bicycle safety, police traffic services, roadway safety, and speed control. Incentive grants are also used to encourage States to implement effective data improvement, impaired driving, motorcycle safety, and occupant protection programs.


The Administration issues FMVSS that prescribe safety features and levels of safety-related performance for vehicles and vehicular equipment. The Administration participates in the United Nations World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29). It also oversees the New Car Assessment Program and the Government's Five Star Safety Rating Program, which evaluates the safety performance of light trucks, passenger cars, vans, and child seats ( These evaluations are highly publicized—star ratings must be visible on the price labels of new vehicles. The Administration also educates consumers on topics such as driving while distracted, as well as the proper use of vehicle safety features and child restraint seats. To promote fuel economy, it manages a program establishing and revising fleet average fuel economy standards for passenger car and light truck manufacturers ( The Administration also runs an antitheft program. Under this program the NHTSA issues rules requiring that certain passenger motor vehicles meet parts-marking requirements, and it calculates and publishes annual motor vehicle theft rates.


The Administration's Office of Enforcement assures that all new vehicles sold in the U.S. meet applicable FMVSS. Under its compliance program, the Office conducts random tests and collects consumer complaints to identify and investigate problems with motor vehicles and vehicular equipment. If a vehicle or equipment suffers from a safety-related defect or does not meet all applicable FMVSS, the Office seeks a recall, which requires manufacturers to notify owners and to remedy the defect free of charge. The Office monitors recalls to ensure that owners are notified in a timely manner and that the scope of the recall and the remedy are adequate. The Office also assures that all motor vehicles subject to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations meet their respective targets, and it enforces violations of Federal odometer fraud regulations by criminally prosecuting offenders.

National Center for Statistics and Analysis

The NHTSA maintains a collection of scientific and technical information on motor vehicle safety. It also operates the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, whose activities include the development and maintenance of national highway-crash data collection systems and related statistical and economic analyses. The public and the private sector and universities and Federal, State, and local agencies rely on these motor vehicle safety information resources for documentation.

Communications and Consumer Information

The Office of Communications and Consumer Information develops, directs, and implements communication strategies based on NHTSA policy and programs, including campaigns to support high visibility enforcement efforts. It promotes safety messages for NHTSA vehicle-related issues. The Office also manages NHTSA Web sites and the toll-free Vehicle Safety Hotline. Information received from calls to the hotline forms the basis of investigations, which can lead to recalls if safety-related defects are identified.

Sources of Information

Car Seats

A car seat glossary is available on the Parents Central Web site.

The car seat finder is an online tool that uses date of birth, height, and weight to find a car seat type that properly fits a child.

Career Opportunities

Information on job openings is available on the "Jobs at NHTSA" Web page.

In 2016, the NHTSA ranked 290th among 305 agency subcomponents in the Partnership for Public Service's Best Places To Work Agency Rankings.


The NHTSA posts factsheets, reports, research notes, statistics, and studies on its Web site.

Driving Safety

The NHTSA Web site features a trove of safety information and resources. Disabled, older, and teen drivers, as well as motorcyclists and others can find Web pages dedicated to improving their driving habits and addressing their safety needs.


The NHTSA hosts meetings and forums to explore new approaches to highway safety. Information and materials from these event are available online.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The NHTSA is required to disclose records that are properly requested in writing by any person. A Government agency may withhold information pursuant to one or more of nine exemptions and three exclusions contained in the FOIA. The act applies only to Federal agencies and does not give a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, State or local government agencies, and private entities.

The NHTSA maintains an electronic reading room. Before submitting a FOIA request, an information seeker should search for the desired document or record in the reading room to determine whether it may be available immediately, without charge. The NHTSA also operates a service center for answering FOIA-related questions. Phone, 202-366-2870.


The NHTSA posts press releases on its Web site.

The NHTSA posts speeches, press events, and testimonies on its Web site.


The NHTSA disseminates information on traffic safety programs in "Traffic Techs." The publication, starting with the year 1995, is available online. Staring with the years 2005 and 2006, "Traffic Techs" becomes available in Portable Document Format (PDF). | Email:


The Recalls Spotlight monitors high-profile recalls and provides resources finding and addressing vehicle recalls.

The NHTSA's Web site features a search tool that allows the user to enter a vehicle's identification number (VIN) to learn whether it has been repaired as part of a safety recall in the last 15 years.

Regional Offices

Contact information for the NHTSA's 10 regional offices is available on the "Regional Offices" Web page.


The Office of Vehicle Safety Research strategizes, plans, and implements research programs to reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries. The NHTSA's Web site contains a trove of information related to these programs.

Resources for Parents

The Parents Central Web site features resources to help parents protect their children and educate them on car and road safety and becoming responsible drivers.

Vehicle Safety

The NHTSA Web site features a trove of information on and resources for vehicle safety. Topics include defects and recalls, odometer fraud, theft protection, and tires.

To report suspected safety defects in vehicles, vehicle equipment, and child restraint seats, call the Vehicle Safety Hotline. English- and Spanish-speaking representatives are available on weekdays, excluding Federal holidays. Phone, 888-327-4236. TTY, 800-424-9153.

For further information, contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Communications and Consumer Information, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590. Phone, 202-366-9550.