NHTSA loses administrator

July 22, 2005

Dr. Jeffrey Runge has announced he will resign as administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to become chief medical officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In his new position Runge will oversee bioterrorism policy and coordinate responses to any biological attacks.

NHTSA, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, promotes traffic safety by setting and enforcing safety performance standards for vehicles, investigating safety defects and doing research on driver behavior and traffic safety.

Runge has pushed for increased seat-belt use and has urged legislatures to pass laws that let police to stop motorists solely for not wearing seat belts. “Primary” seat-belt laws are now on the books in 21 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Runge also has sought to reduce the highway fatality rate. Government estimates released earlier this year projected that 42,800 people died on the nation’s highways in 2004, up from 42,643 in 2003.

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