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NHTSA Leadership

Ann Carlson

Chief Counsel

Headshot of Ann CarlsonAnn Carlson, NHTSA’s Chief Counsel, oversees legal services across the agency, including the agency’s statutory authorities. Her office supports NHTSA’s mission in a variety of ways, including setting and enforcing vehicle safety standards, overseeing investigations and litigation, and setting and enforcing fuel economy standards for cars and trucks.

Since joining NHTSA, Carlson oversaw the agency’s historic action to issue a Standing General Order requiring timely reporting of critical safety data related to vehicles equipped with automated driving systems and advanced driver assistance systems; initiated formal rulemaking to require pedestrian automatic emergency braking and automatic emergency braking in light- and heavy-duty vehicles; and helped secure a historic 50 percent increase in funding and staffing resources for the agency under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. She also oversaw the issuance of new light-duty fuel economy standards as directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 13990. 

Before joining NHTSA in January 2021, Carlson served on the faculty of the UCLA School of Law, where she was the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and the faculty co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She also served as the California Assembly’s representative to the Independent Emissions Market Advisory Committee and won three teaching awards, including the highest honor awarded by UCLA.

Carlson is a magna cum laude graduate of both the University of California, Santa Barbara and Harvard Law School, and has co-authored a leading environmental casebook, co-edited a book “Lessons from the Clean Air Act,” and written numerous environmental law publications.