National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

NHTSA stands for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The organization has been around since its establishment in 1970, as a part of the Highway Safety Act. They were originally created to oversee issues such as accidental death and disability, as well as consumer information programs. Over time, the NHTSA has certainly expanded its responsibilities, however.


The agency is currently a part of the Department of Transportation that has a mission of saving lives, preventing injuries and reducing crashes. For the NHTSA today, that mission includes responsibilities such as fighting theft, establishing fuel economy standards, licensing vehicle manufacturers, as well as developing the vehicle identification number system.

One of the most important tasks that the NHTSA is in charge of is the development of files within the National Center for Statistics and Analysis. The FARS (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) has become one of the primary resources for research relating to driving safety. The FARS statistics are often used as the main database for knowledge on crashes, even outside the United States.

Distracted Driving Role

One of the big issues for the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration is dealing with the increase of distracted driving. Just like many of the similar organizations that are focused on safety relating to automobiles and driving, the NHTSA has been at the forefront of gathering research and formulating action in an effort to cut down cases of distracted driving.

Just recently, the NHTSA unveiled plans for research focused on the role of teenagers and young drivers in cases of distracted driving. The analysis, which was released in April 2012, showed that young drivers are heavily at risk, with statistics showing that they are the least likely as passengers to intervene if someone is texting or using a cell phone while driving.

Also, the NHTSA worked heavily in 2011 to conduct research that would reveal some of the most common distracted driving behaviors in the United States. Within the findings, the NHTSA discovered that in 40 percent of the tests, phone calls were involved. The same bit of research also reinforced the role of teenagers and young drivers with distractions. It was concluded that drivers who are under the age of 25 are nearly three times more likely to text and read e-mails on the phone while behind the wheel.