Skip to main content
Speeches and Presentations

MEMA Annual Legislative Conference Remarks

Heidi King, Deputy Administrator

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | Washington, DC

Remarks Prepared for
Heidi King, Deputy Administrator
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
MEMA Annual Legislative Conference
Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Thank you:

  • Ann Wilson [Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, MEMA];
  • Steve Handschuh [Executive Vice President and COO, MEMA];
  • And everyone at MEMA for the opportunity to speak with you today.

Several months ago, arriving at NHTSA, one of the first things I learned was that the long decline in road fatalities had reversed. NHTSA was preparing to release 2016 FARS data showing a second year of increase in fatalities; the combined 2-year increase is the largest in my lifetime. In 2016 alone, 37,461 friends, neighbors and colleagues died on our roads in auto crashes.

That’s unacceptable.

I’d like to speak with you today about how progress on several of our shared priorities can help reverse these negative trends, including our work on automated vehicles, as well as steps we’re taking on fuel economy standards.

I hope this doesn’t read too much like a laundry list!

Compliance Assistance

As you and I know, manufacturers and other businesses are confronted with a plethora of well-intentioned regulations issued by multiple Federal, State and local agencies. 

  • Large companies have compliance staff or external counsel, but smaller companies might have a harder time keeping up with those regulations, especially when those regulations change or require certain recordkeeping. 
  • Soon after arriving at NHTSA, I learned that the agency did not have a dedicated compliance assistance function. NHTSA’s Chief Counsel and I discussed this and launched NHTSA’s new Compliance Assistance function. 

We believe that we can improve traffic safety by making it easier for all companies, especially smaller companies and new entrants, to get quick answers from NHTSA on how to comply with safety regulations. With the introduction of our Compliance Assistance Program we hope to better bridge the communication gap between government and companies that just want to know what to do. 

Updating Regulations and Addressing Barriers

Sometimes, our well-intentioned regulations don’t keep up with the innovations that promise to improve safety.

NHTSA is also currently reviewing public input to several requests for comments and conducting research on several aspects, including to remove unnecessary barriers related to ADSs. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on these topics to ensure that Safety remains every one’s top priority.

We are keenly interested in learning how we can more quickly assess and assure the safety of novel technologies, especially when those technologies offer safety improvements. Adaptive Beam Headlamps are an example – we look forward to hearing from you on how we can be faster and smarter at improving safety with new technologies.

Automated Driving Systems

Speaking of new technologies, as many of you know, the Department of Transportation has moved forward with the implementation of A Vision for Safety, the voluntary guidance that provides a framework to support the safe testing and deployment of advanced Automated Driving Systems.  

One important piece of that voluntary guidance was the Self-Assessment. The Safety Self-Assessments can help us all in educating and informing the public to build confidence and trust with the technologies.   

To date, I’m aware of two companies that have made available self-assessments and we look forward to seeing more. 

At NHTSA, we are trying to help first by outlining suggested content for the Safety Self-Assessments, but we’ve also created a Voluntary Safety Self-Assessment index to make it easier for the public to find these documents.  

It’s important to me that we learn as an industry to take the first steps together toward applying a Risk Management Framework to our changing technology.  Basic risk management requires that we first identify the risks, and second that we consider how to mitigate those risks. The Safety Self-Assessments are a way to demonstrate that we are taking those first steps, to build transparency and to build trust with one another and with the public; without the public, the advanced technologies will not take hold.


I am aware that MEMA has called for action on a Federal proposal to require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications in all new passenger vehicles.

On August 20, 2014, NHTSA published an ANPRM.

On January 12, 2017, NHTSA published an NPRM.

The Agency received more than 450 comments in response to the NPRM.

NHTSA is considering next steps for this action as part of the agency’s regulatory portfolio. As you know, the Department of Transportation would like to see the Safety Spectrum reserved for safety uses. I look forward to working with you and to seeing applications of these important safety technologies develop.


I’m pleased to have attended the inaugural Auto ISAC last year, and I look forward to hearing more great things from that group.  

As you all know, as well all share suppliers and technologies, we all share problems – if there was any doubt in my mind, the Spectre and Meltdown exploits showed me the potential for common vulnerabilities and convinced me of the importance of critical data sharing.  

As many of you know, those two exploits affected vulnerabilities present in just about every chip manufactured in recent decades. Imagine the harm that could be done if we do not support a robust system for early identification and response to address vulnerabilities or potential exploits. As a responsible sector, we have no choice but to make progress together in this critical area.


MEMA represents some of our most important and engaged stakeholders. Thank you for your recent visit.  

We are about to release a notice of proposed rulemaking and I want to encourage all members of MEMA to review the proposal and actively participate in the rulemaking process by sending in your comments, data, and recommendations.

As some of you have heard me say, we intend to propose a wide range of options, to be transparent and base the rule on facts and science, and I look forward to your input.


MEMA has also played a strong role in international policy, working with the NHTSA staff to promote alignment with FMVSSs around the world. Ann Wilson was recently at the United Nations World Forum of Vehicle Regulations with NHTSA staff and was very supportive of our efforts to adopt a Global Technical Regulation on Electric Vehicles. 

Other policy priorities include:

Drug-Impaired Driving

As many of you know, NHTSA last month launched an initiative to combat drug-impaired driving. 

While a very large number of highway fatalities continue to involve vehicle occupants without seat belts, and alcohol-impaired drivers, growing evidence suggests that drug impairment is a problem on our highways – and that many of our neighbors don’t even know that it is dangerous, illegal, or that there are impaired when they are high.

The goal of the initiative is to foster sharing of best practices in the near term, but also to establish a vision for the Nation – where we will want to be, and what we need to do to combat this increasingly deadly problem.  


Last but not least: As a Nation, we continue to struggle to convince consumers to seek their free replacement of recalled air bags. We must, as an industry, figure out how to improve our work with consumers to address critical safety matters in their automobiles. 

I am excited to hear the results of a pilot program kicked off in Maryland last week, in which the State DMV will notify car owners of open recalls at the time of a DMV transaction.  


That seems a rather long list, but I realize that it is only a partial list of the things we are working on together.  

MEMA is a vital partner in our efforts to advance road safety. Thank you again for inviting me to join you today. I look forward to hearing from you, to working together, and to improving traffic safety together